Source: - Updated: 09/04/1998

GI Joe® Repair
and Customization Tips

Don Thompson started collecting tips from Thanks to Don for starting this and to everyone who contributed by posting to the news group.

As Don reminds folks on his page, "Make sure that you test some of these tips on a worthless or experimental piece because the results may be unpredictable." And if you don't find what you are looking for here, check out Don's Tip List too.

There's also another restoration guide for Action Man written by Dave Higson. I learn it's new home. And John Medeiros (aka gitrooper) has also written up some restoration tips on his home page. If you are comfortable with a paint brush, you should look at Jimbob-Wan's Unholy Scrapbook of the Danged.


  1. Index
  2. Joes
  3. Uniforms
  4. Gear
  5. Making Parts & Accessories
  6. Non Hasbro Accessories


Spare Parts

"I keep a junk bag full of trashed Hasbro items that I can use to salvage parts from. That way I can restore items to "all-Hasbro" condition. Here's some of the problem things I hold on to:
  • rifles (for brass rings and elastic)
  • uniforms and tents (for buttons, zippers, pull-strings and snaps)
  • arm bands (hooks and eyes)
  • rafts (stopper tops)
  • helmets (elastic, brass hooks and inside clips-remove w/exacto knife)
  • fields telephones and radios (straps, brass buckles, handsets, antennas)
  • fuzzheads (donor hair for my AT Hairclub for Men)
  • bodies (replacement body parts, internal elastic, joint hooks)
in other words...never throw ANYTHING out." --


So, how does one clean a Joe? Try an old, softened toothbrush and Soft Scrub cleanser. It works miracles, and won't damage the paint if you scrub lightly. Avoid A brushing the hair, of course. -- Derryl D. DePriest

Cotswold Collectibles sells a great cleaning formula called RemovesIt that will remove almost any well set stain. I've used it to remove magic marker, paint, ink, etc. It's a must to have on hand, IMO. -- Larry Ringheim

I have found that Formula 409 works very well for cleaning plastic pieces. I have also used some something called "Purple Plus Super Stuff" for cleaning pieces that are very dirty and/or stained. You can probably find it at a hardware store. It is similar to "Simple Green" which would probably work just as well. -- Chad Reed

I always do all of my Joe repair near my kitchen sink. Have paper towels and water handy at all times. I also use a toothbrush and a plastic surfaced dobie type cleansing pad for the cleaning chores. These are non-abrasive to Joe's plastic. At the sink, I start by scrubbing him with a dish washing liquid like Ivory. If he's a painted hair-scrub him all over. If he's a fuzz head-skip the head for later. Rinse him with warm water. Next, repeat the process with Soft Scrub with Bleach-going easy on the head this time. At this stage it is especially good at cleaning the hands. It makes discolored Kung Fu Grip hands look human again. Warning: scrub gently as the fingers can break very easily. After you have scrubbed him thoroughly, rinse again in warm water. Dry him off with a towel and look at the head and face. Chances are he needs a closer cleaning there. Using a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, scrub the face clean. Be sure to get behind those ears! Don't worry, unless he has been repainted with acrylics, his paint will stay put but go easy on those areas with anything stronger than dish soap. If he still needs a cleaning after that, try Formula 409 on a swab. Then, rinse the face with a wet cotton ball, removing all of the cleanser. A word about fuzzheads. I had always suggested keeping his hair dry during cleaning to avoid possible hair loss. However, a good friend of mine has had very good results by gently cleaning A.T. heads with a good quality shampoo. Finally, repeat the cleaning process with the dish washing liquid. This is an important step-it will remove any residue of the stronger cleaners which could later find their way on to uniforms. Now, rinse in warm water and dry him thoroughly. Chances are that his internal elastics have gotten wet during all this washing. You want him totally dry inside and out to avoid rusting and elastic rotting. Gently pull Joe apart at the waist and insert a pencil or chopstick between the two elastic pieces so that it keeps the torso and pelvis sections separated. Place him on a window sill in the sun or near (not on!) a radiator. Let Joe dry for at least 24 hours before you remove the pencil, checking to make sure the elastic feels dry to the touch. -- GITrooper

If you buy a set of steel armor from Cotswold, you'll have to deal with rust since it's not made from stainless steel. To keep it up, you could resort to the method that they used then - oil or continual buffing with beeswax polish. Once you've eliminated the rust (any automobile store will supply a good rust inhibitor) a good, thick coat of lacquer or polyurethane varnish should stop the rust for a couple of years. -- David Higson

CLR (known for a heavy duty cleaner that removes rust and water stains) has released a mild version that can be used on plastics, fiberglass ect. I wonder if it can be used to clean up older joes. I'm gonna give it a try on one of my vintage & I'll let you all know... -- Logoffsys

There are several products available that will help get rid of stains. I have had excellent results with Oxy 10 gel and Clearasil Maximum Strength vanishing cream. I use both. Some stains seem to respond better to one or the other - I don't know why. Use a toothpick to apply it directly to the area you want to treat. Leave on a sunny window sill if possible for 24-48 hours. Then check and see how it looks. The stain should be fading. If needed, repeat the process as many times as necessary. With patience, the stain will eventually go away, it might just take a while. There's no calling on this. Sometimes it takes one day, sometimes a month. There are some stains that will not respond to this treatment and that's when you might want to try a new product called Remove-Zit. This product is available at doll shows and directly through the manufacturer, Pine Tree Industries in Scarborough, Maine. I have had great results with this stuff on discolored heads. It works amazingly on the mold spots (the Oxy 10 and Clearasil don't seem to work on these). Be aware that the mold has already bleached the pink color out of the vinyl. So, you will be left with a slightly pale area where the spot was-but it beats green! It is very important that you read all the instructions that come with this product. Do not get it on painted areas-you will lose the paint in those areas. I have also found that sealing in a tupperware container and heat (sunny window sill or above a turned on table lamp bulb perched in the shade supports) seems to help speed up the process. Remember that all of these products contain strong chemicals that will react in some way with the vinyl. In the case of the acne creams, peroxide (a bleaching agent) is the active ingredient. The Remove-Zit works to change the chemical properties of the stain itself. Use these products with care and check the results frequently! On most stains, they will work eventually. -- GITrooper

A fellow collector friend of mine uses javex diluted with water and a q-tip. to clean stains off of deep sea diver suits . He has had good results with this method. -- Robert Hall

My 30th anniversary Joe's wet suit headpiece melted where his chain was around his neck. I used nail polish remover to get this black tar goo off. The only problem is that one has be careful not to use it on a painted area as it will take the paint off as well. It worked great on his neck, throat and chest. I am still working on the part on the back of his head (painted area). -- Robert

If you have a Joe with a melted scuba suit adhering to his body, some of the suit may be loose. Peel or flake off as much as you can. Now get out the rubber gloves. Put him in a covered roaster pan or other covered pan and coat him liberally with Easy-Off Oven Cleaning gel or foam. Cover the pan. Leave him for at least 24 hours. The rubber is an organic compound and will be broken down by the oven cleaner. The scuba suit should be easily removed with a little effort. Some of it will practically slide off and other spots may need a little scraping with a dull knife (be careful not to scratch the body plastic). Again, patience is the key here. When you have finished removing all of the old rubber, clean him thoroughly. -- GITrooper


Use Armor All to remoisturize and revitalize an old Joe. It can replace quite a bit of the lost plastisizers from the vinyl. Don't soak the Joe. Just apply several applications. -- Wolfman Check it about every 3 months or so. -- Scott

Armor All deteriorates rubber faster than air alone can. Use Meguiars protectant on rubber. -- Brant Rusch

When I displayed my first 30th Anniversary diver, I sprinkled the body and suit with diver talcum powder. It made it a little white but who cares. That didn't do the trick, so my next plan was Scubaro regulator silicon. It works well but the dust is a bitch. Now it is tough stopping this guy from becoming a Gillie suit diver! -- Barry W Middleton

The best way to preserve the vintage scuba suits is to dust them with a little bit of talcum powder - inside and out. If you are going to put it on Joe, powder him lightly as well. If you handle him, repowder where your fingers touched the suit. Your body's natural oils can break down the rubber. Also, if he is displayed in a case by himself you can put a small dish of water in the case with him to keep the air humid. Don't do this if fabric uniforms are in the same case. -- GITrooper

Avoid using any lubricant on your models that is petroleum based! It will eventually react with the plastic and degrade it. Use lithium or graphite based lubes instead. -- Richard A. Lewis

Stress Cracks

To repair stress cracks you need something that will bond to the plastic. Most of these types of plastics are hard to actually bond something to. Unfortunately, this usually means a solvent-based cement that may or may-not fully bond. I have had success bonding to similar plastics using a urethane adhesive. It cures relatively hard, but not brittle like many epoxies. These should be available at most hardware stores - 3M Co's 3549 is a good version. -- Trent

Shoe Goo is great for repair of vinyl if you work from the inside It has a good bond but will show. For hard plastic dolls super glue works well and acetone works and is our glue of choice as if sort of melts the hard plastic and fuses it back together. -- D Maltz

If the stress cracks are in a Masterpiece Edition Joe, contact Chronicle Books and let them know about it. You can email them at Let them know if you too are having this problem so they can figure out a solution for these and possible future editions. -- Rick Murray

Broken Limbs

I've tried close to a dozen different glues (and solvents) and never found anything that would hold broken fingers with any degree of strength. Even after glueing, you'll have to be very careful about putting objects in a repaired hand. -- Merk

The ME joe bodies are made of polyethylene plastic, and there is not a glue known to man or chemist that sticks to it. Fussing is the only way to piece a broken finger back together. Get a sewing needle or tiny screw (works best) and cut to size. Heat the screw using a candle and needle nose pliers. Carefully place into plastic until the pin is one half in. Heat the tip of the screw and press together until the parts meet. The small metal pin acts as support. Other than the joint line, it will look like new. -- Wolfman

I've tried all different types of glues including a product called plastic weld that will bond just about any type of plastic. No luck at all. -- Rob

The most efective way to fix the cracks on old joes is to use a soldering iron and useless pieces of joe body parts as fillers. I don't recommend this for the faint of heart. The procedure is the same as if your soldering pipes. Get the iron hot. Cut a small piece from the scrap part. Put that piece on top of the crack then use the iron to melt and press the plastic into the crack. Try to have extra plastic on the area. You want this so you can sand it flush. And viola! No more cracks. I do suggest to practice on useless parts first to get the hang of it. I can do it now with out leaving a trace. When I started it looked like my Joe had a war injury that healed over; it didn't look bad at all, so I kept doing it and each one turned out better than the next. I can't guarantee the same success for others out there but I found this to be the best way to go for me. -- Robert Decastro

To repair a broken finger, get some seven-strand signal wire. If you are very careful, and use the stainless steel and not silver strands, you can carefully pierce the finger and the stub, then glue the tip to the wire, then the wire to the stub. It's not a common fix, but I have used it before. -- Mark Walsh

I also broke a finger from an ME hand. I used super glue and it has held well since November. You can still tell that it has be glued but at least it does not fall onto the carpet to be sucked up into the vacuum. -- Mike Beshada

I was removing one of my ME's boots, and off came his F#?King leg at the knee, post still embedded in the calf. To fix a broken ME knee/thigh joint, get a Cotswold thigh for a buck. You with need a drill with assorted bits, sheet metal screw, exacto knife, super glue and flesh colored paint. We are not going to replace the thigh but the broken pin. Drill out the rivet end on the inside (non-smooth rivet end) part of the thigh. Once the end of the rivet is removed, you can push it out. Do the same for the replacement piece. Now swap pins (or posts) and replace the rivet. You have two rivets to choose from, so select the one that seems to fit the best. Once the rivet is in place, put a drop of super glue on the head to hold it in place. On the side that was drilled, fill in with flesh colored paint. Now turn your attention to the calf. If there is any of the post left sticking out, trim it off with an exacto knife. You want the end as flush as possible before drilling. Now start with a small bit and drill hole thru the busted pin. Then start drilling progressively larger holes. Don't go too big though. Remove the broken piece with a self tapping or sheet metal screw. Screw it in and use pliers to pull it out. Now just put the calf back on the new pin and be careful. -- Merk

There's no way to fix a crack that is so large that the limbs will not stay together anymore. The plastic Joe is made of will not glue, but a Cotswold part will work just fine. Don't worry about taking him apart, he'll go back together with no problem. -- Merk

I successfully filled the cracks on a vintage joe using a two-part epoxy which you can get at a home improvement store. You can't really stick the two parts together seamlessly, but it does fill the gap, and keeps it from getting worse. This technique is similar to way luthiers fix cracks in vintage guitars. You mix the catalyst and resin together in a seperate container to activate them. Then stick the mixture in the crack. I think I used a piece of cardboard like a putty knife to do this. Then immediately wipe off the excess. I did this to a fairly beat-up body over two years ago and it's still holding. -- Shawn

On the subject of broken fingers. Try using PVC cement from the hardware store. 86 the primer, it will leave a nasty purple stain. -- SgtRockUSA

To reattach ME fingers, use PVC glue for plastic plumbing. Just don't use the primer! It will stain the plastic a permanent purple! -- M. Stoner

The "blue" is the cleaner that is applied to the pipe before the glue. Actual PVC cement is clear. -- GNITTEG

Vintage Joes are polyvinylchloride (PVC). A rather slippery plastic, most glues will just not stick to it. Now modern drain pipe is often made of PVC as well. You local home improvement center will have a product to join these pipes. I suspect it is either a solvent the welds the pipes by softening the plastic, or a solution of PVC that hardens. The stuff I have seen is blue, so will not look too good on a Joe. Please note, I have not done this myself, so I do not know it will work. -- Bryan Broocks

Although Cotswold does not list rivets for vintage Joe joints, arrangements can be made. The only stipulation is that the order would be subject to the on hand availability and if the have to order it will be when the have shipments of figures from china. -- Andy Cabrera

I've seen a tool at Sears which may be used to "mushroom" the rivets so that the joints are tight? I've seen it but I haven't tried it. -- Dr. Paul Brothers

Zap-A-Gap is a glue that works on Joe. You can buy it at most serious hobby stores. It's used on RC planes and expensive models. -- J.C.

Here's how I fix a broken foot peg:

  1. Drill out the rivot on the broken part (Use a drill bit the same size as the original peg).
  2. Get a threaded long bolt. You will need to grind or cut the side of the bolt the same thickness as the original pin.
  3. Diassemble.
  4. Make a new attachment pin. I use a nail the same size as the original rivet.
  5. Before re-installing the broken part, thread another bolt the same size into the mated part.
  6. Then re-thread the new more heavy duty part. -- Tonny Mull

If you break a a Joe at the leg socket you might as well play taps for that soldier. I had a broken Snake Eyes, and the glue would not hold it together. As soon as I moved legs days later, Pop! If you have this problem, I would suggest you buy a Barbie wheelchair ..." -- Kevin Lepley

Here's how my hubby fixed my ME's broken wrist:

  1. With a small dremel drill bit, drill into the "peg " piece and "hand"piece about 1/4 inch each.
  2. Cut the pointy end of a small screw so that it is about 1/2" long. I used a dry wall screw.
  3. Screw the pointy end into the "peg" piece .
  4. Screw the "hand" piece onto the other end of the screw piece. You might have to enlarge the hole so that you can start the screw in the hole. As you screw the hand "hinge" pieces will start to expand out but don't be concerned about it.
  5. Screw it together until the peg and the hand meet.
  6. Using a soldering gun, melt the plastic and smooth over the expanded plastic pieces to eliminate the seam from the crack. Don't inhale the smoking plastic - yuck.
  7. Sand the plastic if it is still rough after the melting.

Well there you have it. You do loose the flexability at the wrist but the alternative up until now for me was to tape it back on - having tried all sorts of glue which didn't work or having a onehanded Joe. -- Sara

Floppy Joints

Got a Joe with weak joints? Make him some ace-bandages. Teflon tape is stretchy, but doesn't prevent movement. Wrap it tape snugly around the outside of the joint to make it more secure! If you buy replacement hands or feet from Cotswolds, they include a little teflon tape to wrap around the post to make the new piece fit in nice and tight. You can also get it from places that sell plumbing supplies. -- JM

Say you have a loose Joe foot or Action Boy forearm peg that is loose, use teflon thread seal tape (available in hardware stores) and wrap about two inches of it tightly around the peg. It will "form fit" itself). Insert it back in the hole of the other limb and it will hold like magic and still have the mobility. This will work for the peg-joints of Joes, Captain Action, Action Boy and Dr. Evil. I just tried it on an Action Boy forearm and a pair of Joe feet-and it works great. It will also help keep Joe's feet from coming off in the boots so easily. -- GITrooper

The best way to tighten your Joe involves a partial restring. You need to shorten the single elastic that connects the two legs and the neck.

You need a long tool with a little hook on it like a crochet needle and a thin phillips screwdriver.

  1. Holding Joe securely, pull his head away from the neck hole until you see the elastic that loops around the neck hook.
  2. Push the screwdriver through the loop to hold it securely above the neck hole.
  3. This will allow you to easily unhook the neck from the elastic.
  4. Set the head/neck aside.
  5. Pull and separate the lower section away from the upper. Now you will have Joes two legs and abdomen section free to work on.
  6. You can shorten (tighten) the elastic by folding it an inch or so and then stitching it at that fold point. Make sure you stitch it securely.
  7. Now you can "re-string" Joe by putting the hook down through the neck hole past the arm elastics and out through the bottom of the chest hole.
  8. Hook your tool onto your tightened elastic
  9. Pull it up through the neck hole again. This will take alot of elbow grease. It will be very tight now.
  10. Once you get it pulled just past the neck hole, stick in your screwdriver again to hold it above the neck hole.
  11. Now, you can easily rehook the neck hook to the elastic.
  12. Pull out the screwdriver, and you're done. Joe is back to tight fighting shape!

This process will also work for restringing or tightening the arm elastic as well. It sounds a little tough, but once you do it, it becomes really easy.

You can also tighten the rivits at elbows, etc, by wraping the joint in a cloth, putting the rivit end side down and hammering lightly on the rivit head. Be careful. This is an area where stress cracks form easily. -- John Medeiros

I dunked my Sam's joes in a basin of hot water and let them soak for less than a minute, swished them around and then shook them out and let them dry overnight. They are now definitely tighter. Perhaps whatever was done to them was something that could be washed away; anyway, they are better now. -- Peter



One of the best collecting investments I ever made was buying a $25 travel steamer. Mine is a "Franzus" and I got it at my local Woolworth's. Get the type that looks like an upright canister with a side handle and a venting attachment at the top as opposed to the "iron-shaped" one. Using this little miracle tool you can make Joe uniforms look really sharp. It also will steam cleam surface dust and help to upgrade the look of a uniform. Regular ironing will scorch the fabric and leave shiny press marks-giving it a "worked-on" look. With the steamer, there is no danger of that. Work carefully and pull the cloth taut as you go. Hold the surface to be done between both hands and run it over the vents to "press' the garment. Holding it a little tightly helps. It takes a little practice and you'll probably get a couple of steamed fingers the first time out. Just work carefully and those uniforms will look inspection ready. --


I knew when I put a black cloth beret on my HOF that it was going to need some help keeping its shape. I sprayed it with diluted(1:1) starch, carefully forming the beret while on Duke's head and letting it air dry. The beret isn't rock-hard or anything it just stays where you put it now. -- Ron Jack

My mom suggested something similar. She said to stuff it good and then spray is several times with spray starch letting it dry in between. (Seems like maybe one should iron the brim before spraying). I haven't tried it yet though. -- JM

I found a way to form cloth berets, without a great deal of effort, to look like the way most soldiers wear them today. You'll need a bottle of Paul Mitchell Fast Drying Sculpting Spray or something similar.

  1. Put the Beret on Joe and form it to your liking.
  2. Now take the spray, and carefully saturate the beret with the spray. Try to limit the spray just to the beret material.
  3. Use a tooth pick or some other item to hold the beret in the shape you desire to keep your fingers from sticking to the beret as it dries.
Once dried, the stuff is not sticky and not noticeable. They beret looks great! It's tight, pulled to the side, and realistic. -- Chris

I have seen people get a beret soaking wet, form it and then freeze it. I know this sounds crazy, but after it thaws out it holds the shape pretty well. I don't know if this will work for a little one or not. -- Dman


Before the 80s, military clothing usually had military creases. The pants had a crease on front and back of leggings, the shirt had a crease running down the left and right front of the shirt, and three creases in the back (center, left and right evenly spaced). -- Thor Sadler


I made Black BDUs by dyeing the SAS trooper uniform using a packet of black RIT dye. I think the trick was to hyper saturate the dye. I used a whole packet of RIT powder in about a quart of hot water, pre-soaked the cloth in cold water, and otherwise followed the directions. There is a hint of cammo still showing on BDUs -- Steve Harrison

A word of caution on RIT dyes. They are not true dyes but tints, which means that they do not chemically bond with the fibers of the fabric but simply coat and saturate them with particles of colorant. Which is why RIT dyes fade after each wash. Since you probably won't be washing the clothes to much (if at all again), this is not a problem. But since you saturated the dye it may start to fall out of the fabric once it has dried. So don't let the cloth touch anything that you don't want to turn black.

The following alternatives work well on all cotton cloth:

  1. A better dye to use Is a VAT dye which will turn the fabric black (or whatever color you want) & will never come out. This dye is a bit caustic to use but works quick and lasts forever.
  2. For a dye that is less caustic,use a Procyonb dye (sometimes known as cold-dyes). These dyes require much more soaking but are still permanent.
If any one wants a source for fancy dyes just email me and I'll dig through my files and try to find the address of the place a used to buy them from. --Matthew

If you're going dye natural leather, use the Fiebing's Oil based dyes. The Tandy dyes are alcohol based and tend to leech the natural oils out of the leather causing it to crack on you after a short time. The Fiebing's, being oil based, doesn't do this, and is actually a little more resilient and produces a finish that's easier to apply evenly. -- David Roberts

If the garmet you are trying to dye is made of acrylic then you will need an acrylic dye which is hard to find and toxic to work with. The best thing to use is a permanent marker. If the garmet is made of cotton (unlikely) or wool (very unlikely) then you can use Vat dyes (Zymo-fast) or Procyon (cold-dyes). Even so the best thing is still a permanent marker. Let it dry for a day or two before putting it on Joe. -- Matthew E. Mehlich

My advice is not to use RIT dye on Joe clothes. I did it to Duke's desert BDUs and pack and any Joe body part that comes into contact with them for any length of time becomes stained. -- Rob Sorrels

I used RIT dye on a number of different pieces: SAS and ODF uniforms. I basically used the stovetop method, boiled a saucepan full of water, added the dye, and then put the clothes in. I used a big stick to stir while at low boil for an hour. After that, it took a long time to rinse out all the dye, before putting them into a washbasin and washing it in warm water with lots of detergent. I suppose I could have put it in the washer also, but soaking and stirring in the basin got out the remaining dye. I air dried the lot. The SAS uniform has been on a CC fig for 2-3 months now without any color bleeding.

The key, in my experience, is to really, really wash them well. I noticed if I took a shortcut, there will still be some dye being rinsed out, so I'll wash them more than once. -- Kennedy How

I use Kennedy's method too, except that my first rinse is with a 50% white vinegar solution. I leave the uniform in the solution about 20 minutes, then I rinse like mad with cold water. I place the uniform in a vegetable-type strainer and allow cold tap water to gently flow over the uniform (the tap flow is not directly on the cloth) for about 30 minutes. No bleeding to date. Some dye-jobs are several years old. For "custom" colors: use several dye baths, progressing from lighter to darker hues. Dye doesn't mix like paint. -- Don

I recently dyed some clothes to create SAS and SWAT teams. The first thing to do is bleach the clothing you are going to use down to its base color. Then use black RIT DYE over the stove. Follow the directions on the bottle or box and keep them in the pot for at least an hour. Rinse, dry, etc. and they will come out dark black. I did it a couple of weeks ago and they have not faded. I used solid colors, so a cammouflage pattern may or may not work. -- BrosJones

The uniform on the USMC Force Recon looked too bright to me. So I took a bowl of hot water, put a tea bag in it, stirred it around until the water was dark, took out the bag and stuck the uniform in for a few hours. This darkened the background color quite a bit and now I kinda like this guy. -- Daryl

If you want to dye SOTW uniforms OD, stay away from the dark green and black uniforms. They will probably come out bluish-green. I use the Ritt kelly green with some tan, cocoa brown and black added. The mix depends on how much water you're going to use and what tint you want. Let's say you throw in a flat teaspoon of Ritt Green. If you add a pinch or so of black, you'll start seeing the OG shades that appeared late-WWII and carried on right through to today. A good trick is to get a puddle of your mix in a spoon and look at it. What you see is what you'll get on 100% cotton (usually). To this olive green mix you want to add some brown (in smaller amounts than the green!) to get the OD shades. I have used Ritt's tan, cocoa brown and goldenrod with success. Experiment with it and have some fun. And remember, if you picked up a box of Ritt Dye Remover, there is nothing to worry about if you mess up. -- Ilya


Many of the problems I've seen in Joe uniforms are caused by the fabric unravelling (usually behind a seam). To prevent this, you "overcast the seam" which means setting the sewing machine on zig zag and sewing the hidden edge of the fabric on the inside. -- JM

One little stitch holds the collars down so they don't curl up. -- Rob Sorrels

To keep the ultimate soldier (21st century) gear on the belts, I put a few stitched around the metal clip on the back of the belt. -- mtbbikeseth

To make the 21st century canteen and pack straps to stay on and adjusted, try hand sewing a few stitches around the belt clip once they're in position. It'll work. -- Turbo

Tandy leather sells a variety of leather known as sheep skin skiver. It's very thin (1 - 2 oz. range) and is the perfect scale for Joe. It's sold in a black finish and also natural. I tend to always buy natural then dye it whatever color I need. -- David Roberts

If you have never sewn leather before, take it easy on tensioning the stitch. I set my machine a bit to high and cut right through the leather. -- Trent

This is how I get rid of velcro: I use a very small pair of scissors (they look like something a jeweler would use) and make a cut along each individual strand of plastic that makes up the velcro. Then slowly peel each one off using a pair of small needle nose pliers. Eventually, the entire piece of velcro just falls away from the stitching. Yes, this is pretty tedious! However, the end result looks good and I get to keep the original stitching. Then, I just sew on new metal snaps on the jacket and pants. -- Joeguy

You can use 1.2 mm brass nails for realistically sized buttons. Stick them through the material, cut of the excess (most of the nail) and add a drop or two of fabric tac. Presto instant buttons! -- Valkyrie

I found two hole buttons at a Jo Ann Fabrics that are identical to the buttons on the suspenders the Tuckegee guy is wearing. They come 5 in a pack for about a buck. They are made by JHB International. The label is for 1/4" button. They look great, and even I can sew them on. -- Seth

For buttons, look at any craft store for bead halves. The 3mm size is pretty close to what's on the original. I've used the 3 and 4mm, painted brass color for my buttons. -- Andy

I use cheap felt from a craft store when making custom outfits. Start with large pieces and slowly cut them down to size to make a pattern. If you go too far, it's just felt, not the real thing. The felt is easy to trace because it holds it's shape and it wraps on Joe's body parts better than paper. -- Seth

The best way to start learning to sew is to take apart existing clothing, iron and use as a pattern. Practice practice practice. Use SOTW or 21st or CC unis to start with. Practice practice practice. Invest in a good sewing machine. A $100 Wal-Mart special is going to be hard to use on the small parts. Practice practice practice. Use only 100% cotton material. Cotton twill is the easiest to work with and looks great. Practice practice practice. Oh, and if I haven't mentioned this: Practice practice practice. -- Matthew Mehlich

Want to start sewing for Joe? Go to your local Wal-Mart or fabric store and look for a Ken pattern. McCalls and Butterick make them. The patterns need to be enlarged a bit for Joe, but they also have instructions on them! -- Rob Sorrels


Having trouble glueing those little fabric insignias to the fabric uniforms of your 12" Joes? Here's something that might just do the trick. I used this recently to glue an insignia on a Big Jim figure and it worked better than I expected. It's called Aleene's Original Tacky Glue and comes in a gold-colored squeeze bottle with a white top. It dries clear, and more significantly, flexible. So the insignias won't peel off the figure when you move them around. I found it at Michael's art store, and I'm sure most arts and crafts stores would carry it. -- GI Trekker

If you're looking for a glue that'll fix broken vintage accessories, try Tenax-7R. My brother in-law brought over a bottle of the stuff and it works great! It costs about $2.25 at the local hobby store, and is much better than standard glues. -- Richard Knepper

To glue fabric to plastic, try Weldbond Universal Space Age Adhesive and Probond polyurethane glue The Ultimate Universal Adhesive. You can get them at a local "super" hardware store like Home Depot. Probond takes longer to set. Use a clamp with it. -- Seth

There's a product called Zap-A-Dap-A Goo (no kidding! This is the name) carried by Railroad and R/C Airplane Hobby Shops that will glue fabric to plastic quite nicely. It's not expensive. It has the consistency of aquarium or bathtub silicone. It dries clear, and it will literally bond anything to anything and never dries out or gets brittle. Just make sure you want your glue joint to be permanent. -- Paul McDougald

Here's what I use to glue fabric to plastic: Tandy Leather Company Craftsman Cement. It works better than anything I've used so far. The bond holds but doesn't stiffen or harden to a crunchy consistency. -- jlash

When glueing fabric to plastic, if you use modeling cement (either tube or liquid type), it will dissolve or soften the plastic you're working with. Their main ingredient is MEK. If you intend to use this stuff, make sure you apply it to the piece of plastic, and not the cloth! Applying the stuff to the cloth will cause the junk to soak into the cloth and you end up putting 10 times as much as you need onto the plastic when you press them together. -- Richard A. Lewis

Superglues (cyanoacrylates) are probably the best thing there is for attaching buckles or straps onto a model permanently. It will set instantly if applied to anything natural like cotton or skin. If you're attaching straps or buckles, be sure to only apply a tiny dot exactly where the cloth attaches or it wil make the entire strap stiff. -- Richard A. Lewis

One great use for cyanoacrylate is in making pouches and "canvas" type items. Spread a tiny bit of cyanoacrylate gel onto the backside of the cloth and bend it however you want it. It will stay that way permanently. -- Richard A. Lewis

Avoid using any adhesive or lubricant on your models that is petroleum based! It will eventually react with the plastic and degrade it. -- Richard A. Lewis

The best adhesive I have found for a semi-permanent bond between cloth and plastic is 3M Super Tack Spray-on Adhesive. You can spray a bit onto a scrap of cardboard or plastic and apply it to the model with a qtip in the area you want or you can mask the cloth with a piece of scrap paper and spray a light coat onto it in the area you want adhered. For more permanent bonds, apply it to the model and the cloth, wait until they both set up then press them together. -- Richard A. Lewis

There is a possible problem in glueing a fabric (unless completely natural) to plastic over an unknown time period. There are synthetics involved in some fabrics that could possibly stimulate melt marks. -- Lisa


"Here's how to get those Cadet Pants (and Ski Patrol outfits, Nurse dresses, white backpacks, webbed belts, etc.) white and bright again. You need to buy two things:

  • Softscrub With Bleach
    (the lemon version won't work-has to be the one with bleach)
  • Efferdent denture cleaning tablets
    (the generic versions at Woolworths & Pathmark are fine)

  1. Use a tupperware container large enough to lay the uniform flat.
  2. Wet the piece of clothing and put it in the container.
  3. Shake the Softscrub then apply it all over the item using a toothpick.
  4. Wait about five minutes then add warm water to the container so that it covers the uniform by about and inch.
  5. Squirt some more Softscrub down on it and let it soak about 20-30 minutes - no longer.
    Sometimes I mush it around a little a couple of times while it soaks to make sure the stuff is getting everywhere.
  6. Now take out the garment and rinse well under warm water.
  7. Rinse out your container WELL and put about an inch and 1/2 of warm (not hot) water in it.
  8. Pop in two or three Efferdent tablets and place your garment flat in the container.
  9. Let the efferdent do it's stuff then leave it in there overnight - about eight hours.
    Don't worry if the garment gets looking blue; it will go away in a couple of hours in the bath. What this is doing is removing any of the chlorine from the bleach and the baking soda in the Efferdent will really brighten the whites. You want all the chlorine gone because it would eventually yellow the garment. That's why using straight bleach isn't a good idea unless you efferdent afterwards.
  10. Take out and rinse. If it still isn't white or bright enough-try the Efferdent bath again.
  11. Then rinse it well. I use a "salad spinner" to spin all the excesss water out (like the spin cycle in a washer).
  12. Dry flat."

Use lysol to kill fungus on uniforms that may have been infected during manufacture overseas. Take the uniform off the figure, as the Lysol uses alcohol in the aerosol. -- Bob S.

To remove fungus from ME uniforms, Woolite does work, but remember use only cold water and hang dry. These uniforms will not loose color unlike the vintage uniforms. -- Michael Venture

I washed both clothes and the ME Joe in Antibacteria hand soap. This was over a month ago and both Joe in uniforms look fine. -- Thor Sadler

GOO-Gone is available at most hardware departments/stores and removes almost anything that marks up Joe's skin or plastic accessory pieces, equipment, etc. It will not harm the surface at all. It's especially good for getting off the sticky residue from price stickers. It cleans Joe's face quite well. But always go easy and use a cotton swab to avoid any potential rub offs. -- PDXVixen

To remove magic marker, try rubbing alchol. Pour through the fabric from the back. This works well on some markers and pens. -- Meerk

A company called Twin Pines of Maine makes a group of specialized cleaners, usually marketed to Barbie collectors. The guy who runs it it a chemist who seems to have a good idea about what is and isn't possible to repair. Their web page is -- Donald Tassey

Recently, I recieved a vintage orange jumpsuit. It needed cleaning so I figured I could just run it through the wash along with the laundry. Never do this (unless you like orange underwear). -- Paul Katerges

I throw cold water, about 4 or 5 ice cubes, and a dab of detergent into a tupperware container. Add the clothes, mix them around for a minute or two then rinse. Works great. -- GOGIJOE

I hand wash my Joe clothes in the sink with a small amount of laundry detergent. Then air dry. In order not to damage them, don't scrub too hard and be gentle around the stiching (and extra gentle around the buttons, snaps and tags if present). -- W. Tracy

tupperware container and mix it around for a minute or two then rinse. works great


I went to Michael's (a local Arts & Crafts store) and bought a cheap clear acrylic 8x10 picture frame. This is basically a single sheet of clear acrylic with a bend at the bottom to serve as a stand (the picture or whatever gets slid into the acrylic; there is no frame). I equipped Astro-Joe with his backpack (with the handy suction cups) and affixed him to this frame. Now I have Astro-Joe suspended in midair on one of my shelves. -- Steven T. Charlton

The only problem with the AM soccer player was that the ball wouldn't stay put. I made a very small base to keep the ball flat with Sculpey III. You can get it at craft stores. It comes in different colors and you shape it like play dough and then you bake it to make it hard. -- JM

Penn-Rep makes a great doll stand for displaying Joe out of the box. -- PDXViixen

Penn-Rep Assoc.
Figure Stand Model #2101 for GI Joe
P.O. Box 804 Mechanicsburg, Pa 17055
717-795-7201 1-800-637-8305
Quantity Prices
1-3 $2.00
6-8 $1.30
12+ $ .95
12/packs @ $11.40"

If you pose figures with a weapon or other object in the hand, make sure its not wedged too tight. If you put too much pressure on the fingers,over time, it may break them. I`ve had it happen twice. Fingers that fell off while the figure was simply standing on the shelf. So be careful how much pressure the object is exerting on the fingers. -- Meerk

To get a Joe to hold something in his hand securely, I like to use those little clear rubber bands that come with the new Joes. -- JM

Orthadontic rubber bands would work as well. -- KFG

If you try this rubber band idea, don't store your Joes with them on. You might end up melting stuff like the octopus did all those years ago. -- KFG

To get Joe to hold things in his hands, I use small elastic bands - same as we did when we were kids. You could use a small patch of that stuff that they use, as a replacement for thumbtacks, to stick posters to walls. We call it Blue Tack over here but it may have a different proprietary name in the US. -- David Higson

I've heard that in California every hardware has "earthquake wax" for sale, which is colorless and non-staining. The Mattel designers use it for getting prototype dolls to hold items. If you have any left over, you could always polish your Buick. -- Donnie

Got a Golden Knight Parachutist? Make a diorama of him dangling from a tree. A wire and papermache tree is cool, and fairly easy to make. Or a fake plant stripped down and then customized to look like a big 'ol oak -- Buddy

Got a Golden Knight? Make a wire frame and then use a small fan to blow into the chute to fill it with air and tighten the lines. Or display him with the chute in the early stages of deployment. Not all of the chute has to be in the pack and the lines don't have to be tight. -- Mark Vaello

Trying to display a parachutist? If all the risers won't go taught when he is hung from the ceiling, just leave the appropriate cell of the chute unstuffed with tissue paper. Pose Joe as if he is looking up and banking his descent as if to open the collapsed cell. -- Keith P. Myers

The way I display my vintage Red Devil parachutist is with a plastic, dome-shaped flower pot. I turned the large pot upside down, attached four hooks to the bottom corners (well not really corners since it's circular, but you know what I mean) and hung it from the ceiling using clear fishing line. The parachute draps over this pot and the Joe swings nicely underneath as though he is about to land. It looks exceptionally cool if I do say so myself. Just make sure you open the chute first to get a big enough pot. These chutes are larger than you might imagine. I've also heard that wire-net domed fruit baskets that work just as well. -- McKenzie


I just opened a GI Joe foot locker to discover that my Octopus (rubber) melted my Air Force radio and German helmet. They were melted only where the rubber parts touched them. The melted areas were still soft, so I was able to smooth them down, however. I suspect they'd continue to melt, if I didn't discover it. Put the rubber peices in a different plastic bag when storing. -- MiniWass

I have an original black rubber suit, I swear it was never put in the water, and it still has the original string where the kid pulled it off the card, along with the powder that keeps it fresh. I have kept in on my shelf, out of sunlight, behind a plastic door, for many years, yet slowly, inexorably, it is growing old and cracking near the zipper.

Also, I have never found a good grey scuba suit (Jaws of Death). They seem more sensitive to rot than most, the yellow scuba tops the most resistant (although they discolor easily). -- Steve Harrison

I put Armor All on my black scuba Joe once a month; it seems to help. -- Mark Threadgill

Hydrosorbent Co are suppliers of silica gel. The cost for 40 gram is $5.95; 750 gram costs $24.00. The phone number is not available, but you can buy from the direct.

Hydrosorbent Co.

Box 437

Ashley Falls,MA 01222

-- >combbatuzi

A good source for a moisture inhibitor can be found at your local Wal-Mart. Go to the section which has all the flower arrangement stuff in it. There you should find 1 -2 pound cans of silica gel, which is a dessicant used for drying flowers. It is the same stuff used to prevent moisture damage on everything from guns to electronics. It is a fine powder. You can store it in old socks (allows absorption of moisture from the air) or I guess you could just pour some in an open bowl and leave it there if you are careful not to spill it. I have used it for a couple of years now in my gun safe. You can buy a pound or two of the stuff for five bucks, and it works better than those $15 five ounce dessicant canisters they sell at the gun shows. -- Patrick Scalia

To prevent deterioration of soft, pliable pieces (like kung fu grip hands), spray them with Nu-Vinyl, ArmorAll (or some other plasticiser) periodically. -- Bob SS.

It seems the main problem with wet suits is the rubber melting as a result of a chemical reaction to the plastic. Why not put a barrier between the rubber and plastic to prevent the chemicals from interacting? I was thinking something along the lines of nylon as a barrier. You would have to do some cutting on some nylon stockings, but I bet you could work out an effective nylon "body suit" to put on Joe under the rubber wet suit. Spandex may work well too. -- Chris

I asked our polymer chemists at work what can be done to prevent the plasticizer from leaching out of the plastic. The plasticizer is what makes the material flexible or supple. There really isn't anything you can do. Hasbro should have used a different material for these - such as Viton or Polyurethane. Unfortunately, they took the cheap route and overloaded the "rubber" with plasticizer. Now it comes out and the suit cracks. The worst part is the junk coming out now plasticizes everything it touches - including your Joe. A little talcum or baby powder seems to slow the process, but it will eventually go to hell. Take it off of your Joe and store each piece separately. I stay away from Armor All and the like. These products have a mild solvent in them. It may seem to help your suit immediately, but it's just gonna dry out and crack eventually. -- Trent

Part of the problem with deteriorating wet suits is the chemical interaction between the different materials. If you plan to keep the suit on the Joe, a layer of K/Y inside the wet suit might help. -- Steve Harrison

To keep your wet suit from deteriorating, get the air out of contact with it. My MIB photo box diver was perfect for 21 years without celo on the box until I bought it and waved the bags around a lot! Also get those dog tags off the rubber. They will melt it real fast. -- Barry W Middleton

Melt marks are caused by plastics of different types being in contact with each other. Lay a piece of polyvinyl and a piece of styrene on top of each other and come look again in a few weeks. It's the chemicals in one that react with others. If you're really a serious collector and really afraid of melt marks, take every individual piece of plastic or polyvinyl and pack them seperately in mylar bags. You can store all your boots in one bag since they're the same polyvinyl. But if you put, say, a helmet in with them, it won't last too long. Store soft plastics (polyvinyl) with soft plastics and hard plastics with hard plastics. Don't mix them and store them together. -- ral

I was surprised to find that it doesn't take that long. I picked up a HOF Medic set a few months ago. I opened it up and got sidetracked leaving the pieces in a little pile. I came back the next day to find that the arm sling had left a little mark on the crutch. Surprise! -- Barry Vedros

There is a really nice little plastic box put out by a company called Plano. It's a customizable "tackle box" and it works perfectly for loose Joe gear/weapons. And it's fairly in-expensive at just over $4.00. Now, don't get me wrong. I like the GI Joe Foot Locker, but if that puppy gets knocked over, you've got to carefully open it up and then dump out all the loose stuff. This little tackle box holds everything in pretty tightly, and you don't have to worry about everything rolling all-over the interior of the tackle box. It's all held in the little boxes nice and cozy-like. -- Jeffrey Griffin

A "classy" storage box can be made from a pinewood "two bottle wine display case" available for a couple of bucks at the liquor store. It even has a rope handle *Grin*. Sand off the grape-and-ivy stencil, give it an all-over "smoothing" and varnish. Viola! -- Anna

I use a really big tool box I found with compartments on the top to hold small gear. The trays inside hold bigger items, and I keep figures and uniforms in zip-lock bags in the bottom. I actually have one set up for loose and customizing stuff and two others as really big footlockers as playsets for me and my son. I got mine at Caldor for about $10 for the two small ones and $15 for the big one. -- Seth

Plastic shoe storage boxes work swell for me. I keep each Joe in its own box along with all of the equipment associated with that particular figure. I have a few spare boxes that are just full of spare equipment, one for Palitoy, Vintage, and modern. They stack well and fit wherever I need to put them (under the bed, stacked in a closet, high on unused shelving ... I move a lot). I wish they were airtight, though. I stored my vintage soft-heads in an airtight movie projector case for 15-20 years, and their vintage noggins are still soft. -- Opie

First, Masterpiece Edition boxes are great for keeping two or three figures with the attendent accessories in one place when they aren't on your display shelf. They are very good for folks who rotate their displays. Second, Army surplus ammo boxes seem appropriate, and they usually cost around five bucks. Some are even watertight. -- Rudy

I buy new big tackle boxes in the off season when they are at the cheapest price with a layer of dust on them. The big fold out ones work well for storing gear and uniforms. The big ones usually have adjustable compartment sizes for customizing your storage needs. These work at least 100% better than the Hasbro foot locker and big three tray plastic tackle boxes can usually be had for about $9.99 at Target in the off season. -- Dave


Vintage (60's-70's) G.I.Joe uniforms don't fit well on the Hall of Fame figures! -- GI Trekker

Most vintage uniforms will fit a CC Joe, The CC hands are the main obstacle, as they are quit a bit larger than a vintage Joe's hands. The chest of a CC is slightly larger than a vintage and the waist of a CC is smaller. They are both 11.5 inches tall as opposed to the HOFs which are 12 inches tall. -- Matthew E. Mehlich


To keep shirts looking neat while tucked into pants, use a rubber band around shirt tails and pull loose shirt material to the sides then pull up pants. -- Thor Sadler

The SotW pants are baggy enough to actually blouse into the boots. Tuck just a bit of the bottom of the pants into the boots and pull the rest out evenly around the top of the boot. -- Leo Sutedja

The CC figures can get ugly, although somewhat realistic, imprints on their faces from their goggles. But don't worry. The imprints will disappear after a couple of days. -- Coop

The CC's desert camo look much better after washing with bleach. -- Karl Clapp

I think the cloth materials they are using for the CC Joes are better than the vintage. The thinner material makes it look proportioned to Joe instead of him looking like a kid wearing daddy's uniform. -- Thor Sadler

A common problem with shirts made for vintage Joes (including Cotswold's Elite) is that the cuffs of the sleeves are too small to accommodate a CC Joe's hand. If you really want it on a CC Joe, pull the hands off, dress the CC and then put the hands back on. -- Rob Be careful! Folks have reported breaking the CC when trying to remove the hands. -- JM

Here's how to blouse a pair of trousers:

  1. You must first remove trousers (or jumpsuit) from Joe and turn trouser legs inside out.
  2. Tie a small loop using elastic string around Joe's leg. I use his lower thigh as a guide for judging the correct diameter of the loop. If you tie the loop too tight, it is harder to blouse. If it is too loose, it won't blouse properly. Use your own judgement.
  3. Push loop up around thigh to get out of way.
  4. Place the legs through trousers (inside out, remember).
  5. Run the trouser legs up to about his lower thigh.
  6. Stretch the elastic string over trousers. I usually have the string placed over the knee joint.
  7. Pull the trousers on Joe. You'll have to work the bloused part a bit to keep it frome riding up to his neck when pulling up his trousers.
  8. Button the trousers. You should now be looking at Joe with bloused trousers, but looking a bit like LL Cool J.
  9. Leave the bloused cuffs over his knees for now.
  10. Put Joe's boots on.
  11. Pull the bloused cuffs over boots. This is hard because you might pull of the trouser leg out of the "blouse", especially if the string inside is too tight. Sometimes I don't cut the boots down too much because it gives me an area to slide the bloused cuff over. The extra boot that is hidden also acts to hold the bloused trousers in place.
  12. Adjust the trousers, and tuck in any boot stings into the trousers. If you've cut the boots down to what looks to be "realistic", you can just push down the bloused cuffs to the edge of the boot. You can adjust acordingly if you need to let out more trouser or take more in.
In the Navy/Marine Corps, we use blousing straps to blouse our utilities. You place them around your calf, let your trousers hang naturally, then grab the cord through your trousers and tuck the rest of the trouser leg underneath. If the previous steps were a little confusing, try to emulate real life. It is also a good idea to see how low or high real boots fit. For example, jungle boots are a lot shorter than the all leather combat boots or jump boots. -- YN3



You know what's really cool about the transparent colors? When you paint them over a solid color, you can create some fantastic effects. Want to cool up your sunglasses for your Joes? Paint the lenses silver, then paint over them with either blue or smoke transparent paint. Suddenly, you have gargoyles! -- Steve Harrison


There are different sizes of feet and that means different sizes of boots! It's easy to put a smaller foot into a bigger boot. If you want to go the other way, see the tips below. If you can help me the IAM measurements, I'd appreciate it. -- JM

You can use a soldering gun to mend split boots. The trick is to melt only the inside of the boot, and not all the way through to the outside. However, it has to be melted enough that both sides of the seam will bond with the other. I was able to then place the boots on and take them off my Joes, with repairs still intact afterwards. From the outside, you cannot tell the boots had been repaired. Note: The splits were either in front at the laces or in the back, but not at the soles. -- Kevin

The Arctic Mission Gear, if good for nothing else, is good for the white boots that come with the set. At a time when Joe currently has no athletic shoes, these can easily be transformed into them. The boots are easily "cuttable." My one word of advice is to cut slowly and evenly. I actually have a pair of athletic shoes right in front of me as I cut, in order to get the cut just right. You can then use the shoes like that, or if you have a thing for exactling detail (and a steady hand), some paints and a small-tip paintbrush should allow you to add some detail. -- Bidz

Figure Footprint
SLU 1 7/16"
Elite 1 11/16"
Vintage/ME/CC 1 13/16"

Getting the Classic Collection (CC) GI Joe boots off the old-style feet was a bit of a job, so I dusted the boots before putting them back on. -- Rob Dean

I found out that by heating a HOF boot in the microwave oven for two minutes it will slip on a masterpiece joe foot as easy as Cinderella's slipper, and does not damage either the boot or the foot! -- Caemson

The US Serviceman Memorial Collection boots will fit if you put a dab of vegetable oil on the heel of your CC or HOFA Joe. I used the black boots as dress shoes (pants over top). -- Matthew Mehlich

Some HOF boots will fit CC figures. Some are too tight. The hair dryer technique with the boots will help. Warning: To take off a tight HOF boot from a CC Joe will require lots of pulling. I used the hair dryer technique and the heating action also made the CC's ankle joint very soft. When I finally pulled the boot off the ankle was slightly stretched. This CC Joe now has a leg slightly longer than the other. My advice is to buy Cotswolds boots for the CC Joes. -- Thor Sadler

Also, the foam rubber boots for CC Joes, though looks alot better than the thick HOF boots, they resist attempts to make the CC Joe stand. The hard plastic boots of vintage Joe and Cotwolds boots make CC Joe stand easier. -- Thor Sadler

CC Joes can wear both HOF and vintage Joe uniforms. Hats and boots are a hit and miss subject. -- Thor Sadler

There are different sizes of feet from HOFA vs. CC or ME as a result there are different sizes of boot too. The CC boot will go on a HOF/HOFA foot with no problem. The reverse is not true, unless there is some secret handshake involved, you won't get a boot from HOF/HOFA onto a CC/ME/Vintage figure. If you force the issue, the boot may go on but you'll probably end up cutting the boot off or traumatically amputating the foot. -- Joe Shipley

I've put the HOF boots on both my Elite and CC Joes with no real problems. The green HOF boots are stiffer than the black and they are the only HOF boots I have not been able to get the "Big Foot" into. The HOF boots also come off without any real problems. Use lots of powder to help them slide on & off. -- Rob Sorrels

HOF boots don't fit CC joes well, except for Major Bludd's, whose boots fit well. -- Blair

The Target WWII boots are too big, but if you simply paint the boot black or dark brown (using something like Liquitex), and either paint the spats tan or leave them as is, you get a decent looking boot. -- gijoe1964

Head Gear

Here's what I did to make the FAO pilot helmet look a little more realistic. First, I painted the visor Black. I then I removed the original elastic and installed 2 wider pieces measuring 1 1/2" long. I bought a couple of black sew on snaps and sewed the male end to the ends of the elastic and on the helmet I made a template and using a high speed dremel press drilled small holes and sewed the female end to the helmet. -- Michael Venture

Here's how to smoke the lens without making them pitch black? Try clear red Chart-Pak tape, like you use on overheads and briefing slides. Similar products are available in art and office supply stores. Failing that, try window tint. -- Mark Walsh

I've always wanted to try this helicopter pilot helmet modification for myself but I haven't gotten around to it:

  1. Snip the elastic 1/2 way.
  2. Take screws from an old pair of ray bans.
  3. Hold visor on helmet to "eye-ball" where the straps fall. They should be at about 4 and 8 o'clock as you look down from the top and about 1/3 the way from the bottom.
  4. Drill a tiny hole in the helmet
  5. Attach with tiny screws. -- Joe Shipley

To smoke a helmet lens, go to any well stocked hobby shop, and look for Tamiya Acrilyc model paint. They have a line of transparent paints, designed for wind shields, canopies, and other places that a transparent color is useful. It comes in red, blue, green, amber, and smoke. Cleanup with water, rubbing alcohol, or you can go ahead and buy a bottle of thinner for it. Figure around $2.25 a bottle, but you'll get a lot of use out of it.

It air brushes very nicely. You can also brush paint it. If you are careful, it dries clean and streakless. Remember, less is more. So build up layers to get the darkness you need.

As always, you would be wise to practice a bit before committing to your one-of-a-kind helmet It might be a good use for all those CC goggles you've got laying around.

Now, there may be some other brands of transparent model paint. I know Gunze Sangyo makes some, and I have used it, but I think you want to make sure you've got water based acrylic. It's safer on you and the plastic. -- Steve Harrison

I made an Apollo "fish bowl" type helmet out of a plastic x-mass ornament mold, vinyl, metal foil and a hot glue gun. -- Wolfman

After opening a few of the new WWII US Service mans uniforms I noticed that the fabric covered helmets are to small for your Hasbro-produced GI Joes. There are a couple of things that I found that you can do to make these helmets to fit a little better.

  1. Use a pliers and remove the inner helmet liner.
  2. With a sharp knife remove the 4 plastic posts that the plastic liner attached.
  3. If needed use glue to tack down any of the loose fabric.
Unfortunately, the size is still not perfect, but its a lot closer. -- Mad Dog

Try removing the cloth cover from a WWII US Service Man's helmet and fitting the cloth on to a Joe/AM M1 helmet, takes a little work but gives and even better result. -- Winch (Alan Dawson)

I used a dremel tool on a USSM WWII Infantry Helmet. I pried the inside black piece out and then used the rounded cone shaped attachment to grind down the little plastic posts that were left. The helmet now fits on an Action Man perfectly. -- JM

I used pliers to rip out the posts inside the USSM WWII helmets. They rip right out just fine. -- Robert

I don't know of any way to repair a vintage "shrunken head" Joe. but I put a small wad of cotton under the helmet/hat so that it sits correctly. -- Greg Buck

I tried to put a 21st century helmet on my fuzzy head action man figure and it wouldn't stay on for anything. I decided to ameliorate the situation by taking velcro with adhesive backing (not the fuzzy side, the prickly side if that's any way to describe it) and cutting four small 1/2" strips and placing them about halfway in the helmet all the way around. If you fuzzy guy has anough hair it'll hold quite well. It worked for me anyway. -- Denny

I found a way to make the Wool cap that comes with the WWII figures wearable. Take a sweater shaver and shave down that big stub on the top inside of the cap. Now put it on under the helmet, and it doesn't look so ridiculous. -- Rob


The original Halo CC Joe was short on equipment because he's missing his ALICE pack. Here's the solution. Grab the backpack (sans the web belt) from the Aussie ODF Joe. Put it on the front of the Halo Joe and then use the hook on each side of the ODF backpack, and hook it over the shoulders to the straps on the parachute in back of the Halo Joe. Voila, an accurate 'airborne ranger'! The ODF pack is the same color as the parachute pack. -- Rebonitz

Put about 1/4 inch airplane glue on the 21st Century Toys pack straps and let dry. They will then feed easily. -- Oz

Use tweezers or foreceps to buckle a 21st Century Toys pack. I use foreceps and can do a pack in about 5 minutes now. -- Rob

Here's how to "assemble" a 21st century ruck sack:

  1. First get a large safety pin and a lighter.
  2. Use the lighter on the ends of the straps only for a second and squeeze it together this will keep the ends from fraying.
  3. Use the pin to fish the straps though the buckels.
  4. The shoulder straps go to the bottom corner straps
  5. The pocket straps are easy.
  6. The top straps go through the loops on ruck cover.
  7. Then, on three pocket pack, connect to the bottom inside straps, and travel on either side of the middle pocket.
  8. On the two pocket ruck sack, they travel under the pockets one strap under each pocket and then connect to the bottom straps. -- Black Dog


If you can get a hold of a T-10 reserve PILOT Chute and take out the spring, the remaining midget parachute is the perfect size for joe. The one I have fits perfectly into the CC HALO pack tray. I have not modified the parachute yet but when I finish, it will look like the MC-3 Free Fall Parachute as recently seen in Disney's "Operation Dumbo Drop". It is not a square RAM AIR parachute, but I'm not that motivated yet and these pilot chutes are regularly discarded by DRMO. -- Katy Jeeb

I finally got my hands on a pilot chute. It looks pretty cool with the Airborne Ranger. It was kind funny that a rigger came in needing stitches and I asked him if he could hook me up. A direct supply line to a expendable item. The only thing that I had to do was cut the stiches and take out the spring thing. The chutes look great green and about the right size. Now all I need is the proper way to pack it. Any Riggers know how thanks. Remember I jump a pack and don't actually pack my own chute. -- Daniel Weiske (Dan the Airborne Man)

Dan, go to the rigger's shed and watch them speed pack the chute. If you can make the pack tray, the deployment bag and the harness you'll be in business. You can cut corners on certain items such as cotton webbing ties and break lines (in real life we don't cut corners).

Here are the steps I remember from way back when:

  1. Get parachute in proper layout. Stretch on table with apex tied to end of table. Separate suspension lines according to left/right risers, get rid of twists and turns.

  2. Dress the parachute by making two sets of triangle flaps from apex to skirt. It'll look like a elongated triangle that is intersected through the center. (I'm using layman terms here so bear with me)

  3. Fold one triangle over on top of the other. Be sure to keep your suspension lines separated! In real life you would place break ties along the chute to keep it neat and controllable. It'll be a b*tch to stuff in the D-bag other wise. Sorry Amy did I say a bad word? 8-)

  4. Now "thread" the apex of chute to the deployment bag (make sure there is a static line or a mini pilot chute attached). Use a slip knot to secure the apex to the D-bag.

  5. Slowly and carefully, stuff the D-bag left to right then right to left in a zig-zag pattern until you are out of silk.

  6. With the "separated" suspension lines (my memory goes fuzzy here), carefully bring the lines to the top of the D-bag in the center of the suspension lines loops TOGETHER (you'll lose separation at this point BUT keep them separated as long as possible until you "loop the lines" through.

  7. The opening flaps of the D-bag have locking loops. Pull the male flap to the female flap and tug the loop through the female flap's hole.

  8. With the suspension line you take a bite of line through the flap loops. Now carefully use a paper clip as your "hook" to pull a "loop" or a small "bite" of lines through the locking loops of the D-bag, do not get the lines tangled or twisted.

  9. Take the lines to the top left loops of the D-bag. Now carefully use a paper clip as your "hook" to pull a "loop" or a small "bite" of lines through the top loop of the D-bag, do not get the lines tangled or twisted. (Clear as mud huh?) Then crisscross the lines from Left loop one to right loop one to left loop two to right loop two....until you reach the end of the D-bag. The lines through the loops should not look like Amy's pasta dinner. It must be neat and clean looking.

  10. Now the D-bag is ready. Attach the risers to the harness. Lay the D-bag ontop of the Pack tray and close the pack tray flaps around the D-bag. Eand P-tray flap has a hole or loop to draw the cotton webbing through, in our case use the "guts" strands of 550 cord. Take one strand and "thread" it through the P-tray flaps to form a circle. BTW - make sure the static line is outside of the P-tray at the "TOP" of the tray.

  11. Try to make the pack as tight as possible by drawing the flaps as close as possible. It may require you to use a little palm action to "flatten" the D-bag to a manageable size.

  12. When 11 is done, tighten the "strand" of the P-tray and tie another slip knot.

  13. Since there will not be enough force to break the last slip knot, you will have to tie the other end of the strand to the static line so as when the static line is "pulled" it will also pull the slip knot out.

  14. Using small and thin rubber bands, make the loops for your static line down your P-tray. You know you should crisscross these as well.

  15. Attach static line hook to the P-tray for storage purposes.

Now sign the rigger's inspection book with your name.

The Rigger's motto is I will be sure always. Do the same by double checking my instructions. You'll learn alot from this process. And a Paratrooper, it is good for a soldier to be familiar with his/her equipment even beyond their training.

The chute should work like this:

  1. Static line attached to an anchor point at a height that will permit the chute to deploy.
  2. When Joe is released, his weight will pull taunt the static line thus pulling the slip knot at the P-tray's flap closures.
  3. The tray now open, pulls the D-bag out and away from the jumper.
  4. The suspension lines now slip through the loops until the locking loops of the D-bag are pulled.
  5. Thus the silk is drawn out, skirt first, filling with air.
  6. Until the last slip knot connecting the apex to the D-bag is pulled.
  7. Thereby freeing the chute from the D-bag and the jumper drives on with his descent.
  8. Mission Complete.
BTW - For those who can't get a military pilot chute, here's a POC:

PAI Parachute Equipment Corp.


Some pilot chutes run for $70.00 -- Thor Sadler

I went to the Fabric area in Wal MArt and bought a Dritz Plier Kit which will enable me to put 1/8 inch eyelets into the Nylon material. I then bought #18 twisted nylon twine for the ropes. If you open the HALO Rangers chute pack there is a strap that you can use to attach the chute. The Pliers were about 6 bucks but I can use them on other plans and the eyelets were about a buck. I still haven't figured out how to open the chute. It will probably not be packed when he "Jumps" and I will only pack it for display. -- Robert

T-10 Reserve Pilot Chutes are the only way to go! They fit Joes pack-tray and they are military issue. -- Jeb

Here's how to pack a parachute: Square parachutes are packed sort of like an accordion. If you hold the entire left side of your Joe chute, it should be folded so that it will collapse down on the right side (accordion style). The individual cells should be open. The nose and tail of the chute are then folded down, kind of like folding the coner of a dollar bill (the amount of fold varies for desired chute opening speed), but roughly, have the upper corner of the (accordion folded) chute touch the bottom of the chute. Then neatly fold the thing so it will fit into the pack. The lines go in last and are held in place by rubber bands. -- Torch

We did a little experimentation last night with a new material - a 45 inch diameter chute out of a lightweight ripstop material that is a pretty good approximation of a "silk chute." It's got a grid-looking pattern like ripstop, but it feels like parachute fabric. The material was in the remnant bin at a fabric store. OD green, too! Cost less than a buck, I think. I hemmed it and added 8 lines using yellow rope like the ice pick and AT accessories sometimes used. The kids and I tested it last night. This chute is too large for ME guys. It has to drop a long way before it opens, and is a slow descender with a CC Joe attached. With the ME guys, I had to leave a length of line unwrapped so it'd kinda "yank" on descent and open the 'chute. We did a tandem jump with a CC and an ME Joe and it looked about right. Lesson #1 learned: 45" is too big. Lesson #2: Arm gets tired a lot faster when heaving 2 Joes instead of 1. -- Opie

Need a parachute for your joe? Check out the local hobby store where ESTES rockets are sold. They usually have chutes in all sizes, shapes and colors. Prices average about $15.00 for the good ones and they are tuff! Uh, oh. No harness to attach the chute to? Go to the local pet store and buy 2 chihuahua size black nylon adjustable collars with plastic connectors. Run these between joes legs and over his shoulders. Attach chute lines to leash snaps on collars. Your joe is ready to go! -- Oz

Looking to get someone else to make you a parachute? Go to your nearest paraloft. Parachute riggers have all the canopy material and sewing machine expertise required. I was a marine rigger and I made a few different canopy/harness combos for my joe collecting compadres. I only charged a 12 pack. -- Delaney

I think to pack the AT parachute this way, 25+ years ago...

  1. Hold on to the center of the chute, and pull it out straight so the chute and cords are relatively straight. It's also useful to untangle and seperate the cords so all the cords that attach on the left side of the chute pack are on the left side of Joe, etc.

  2. Fold the chute down from the top using about 4" folds. It's almost like rolling the chute up.

  3. Wrap the cords around the folded chute, not too tightly.

  4. Don't put the chute in the pack, it isn't going to work. You should have the chute rolled up against the top of the pack. I don't think the rip cord ever really did anything.

  5. Find a nice deck with a nice soft landing surface below.

    Chuck Joe up in the air as hard and as far as you can. If you do it properly, the chute will unroll, inflate, and bring Joe down to a soft landing.

I remember having a 60-70% success rate with this method, which is why that soft landing surface is important! -- Jim

I remember some quite succesful AT parachute launches. Here's how I did it:

  1. If the chords are tangled, I always found it easier to slide the knotted end out of the slots at the top of the pack for unraveling.

  2. Lay the 'chute down and make sure there are no tangles.

  3. Fold a quarter of the 'chute in on the left and right to meet in the middle just like when you make the center fold on a paper airplane.

  4. Fold the two halve together and again as necessary to fit in the pack.

  5. Once the width is right roll/fold it to the correct height for the pack.

  6. Place it in the pack, close the clam shell, place the string over the closed clamshell from the top back down to his crotch and around to the belly area.

  7. The ring on the rip-chord should be where you thumb would be on the abdomen when holding the figure with your fingers on the pack. He' ready to toss!

  8. Throw him up, underhand and head first. What you have to watch out for is that his legs are not so close together that he snags the ring in his crotch.

  9. Anyways, the upward motion opens the clamshell and deploys the shoot.

  10. Its always a good idea to have a soft landing. Accidents do happen. -- E J Harsh

For those of you with vintage fighter pilots, 9 out of 10 times the lid from the parachute has become detached. I went to Home Depot, picked up some green colored caulking called "Color Rite Cauling Spectrum), and laid a very thin bead of caulk down on the lid and pack. It matched perfectly, stayed flexible and is removeable. This is just FYI if you want to attach the lid to the pack for display purposes. -- LogOffsys


Here's how to make a more realistic AR15 shorty from a Hasbro HOF M-16-like rifle (the one with the goofy looking scope on the carry handle, fixed bayonet, and telescoping stock):

  1. Using a sharp pocket knife, carefully remove the scope.
  2. Again using the knife, remove the bayonet at the lug and sever the barrel at the flash suppressor and behind the handguard of the bayonet.
  3. "Eyeball" the length of the barrel and remove a piece to approximate a 16" barrel.
  4. With a Leatherman tool, clip a section of a straight pin. which I used in the manner of the "finger repair" trick,
  5. Heat the pin and shove one end into the shortened barrel and one end into the flash supressor. -- Rhino

Rifle Slings

To make your own rifle sling, go to your local craft, fabric or sewing store and get some olive drab elastic, 3/16" wide. Then look for some brass wire thin enough to fit through the holes on the rifle where the sling rings go. -- Dr. Paul Brothers

You can find rings already formed to the correct size as the Joe rifle rings at craft stores. -- Mad Dog

You can find close to the correct elastic (1/8") in a good sewing supplies store. They come in white and black. Black seems harder to find but, I'm sure a good store could order it for you. You can dye the white with permanent art markers. I use Pantone #5767-T for the olive drab rifle slings and #361-T for the brighter green helmet straps. Many crafts centers also carry gold-tone little metal rings for the slings as well. -- John Medeiros

To make a hasbro look-alike rifle sling, you can pick up the rings at most craft/jewelry sections. Can use 1/8th " black or white elastic and sew or carefully super glue. If you want them realistic, use Skiver leather, dyed to correct tone. Smooth side for leather slings and "rough" side for webbing slings. Web slings can be acrylic painted skiver too. You may be able to get realistic loops for the slings (oval rather than round) from "Toys'n Stuff", or from Cotswold. US WW2 slings are very complicated, having a couple of adjustment buckles with teeth. German ones also have a sliding adjustment buckle. -- Paul Walmsley

Rifle Scopes

On the scope, drill it out a little, and put a plexiglass lens in place. It looks cool. -- Wolfman


You can use heat to melt the HOF insignia off with a hair dryer or iron. -- Rob

You can remove decals by soaking the garment in lighter fluid. They will peal right off. -- Wong Lu Meng Marcellus

I used paint remover on my SotW Air Cav outfit to remove his stripes. -- Rob

I just tried something with a mixed degree of success using an off the shelf proprietary cleaning/stain removal product available here in the UK called Dab It Off. So far I have successfully removed nametags etc from Joe HOF uniforms and early 90's AM uniforms OK. I met with a little more resistance when removing the AM logo from the T shirt in the AM Abseil Gear and the HALO Rangers Airborne Ranger Tabs, a little more persistence would probably have brought them of completely. I managed to get rid of all the ink, but was left with a thin flexible clear film which is only visible if you know it is there. The only thing this stuff would not touch at all so far was the SOTW Airborne Rangers insignia. -- Winch

I have found a some-what reliable technique for removing the decals from the 21st Century OG 107 fatigue shirts (Special Forces Advisor and Army Ranger).

  1. First, heat the shirt in the clothes dryer or use a hair dryer.
  2. While the shirt is still hot, take clear packing tape and stick it over the decal you want to remove. Press down hard and quickly pull off. This will remove a portion of the decal.
  3. Keep doing this until the entire decal is removed.

Be sure to get new pieces of tape when the tackyness starts to fade. It will take a bit of effort, but it should remove the decal cleanly. I used Manco Crystal Clear tape that meets Postal Regualtions and it worked fine. Beware of duct tape, it may leave glue residue on your garments.

I'm not sure this will work on Hasbro gear. The 21st decals are a low heat, rubber-type base. When they get hot, the edges of the decal curls. I have not seen the Hasbro decals react this way (except Jane's flightsuit and the General's jacket) -- I Zhevsk


Cutting plexiglass is a very iffy thing, do it slowly. Draw a paper template outlining the exact size of the windshield that you want cut. Then afix the template onto the plastic using some double sided tape. After that use a straight edge and a metal scribe and slowly scribe away. If you are patient and persistant enough, you should be able to cut through.

If you have access to a bandsaw, use that and finish the piece by sanding and buffing the edges on a buffing wheel. It is much quicker but if the plastic is too thin, the fast vibration of the saw tends to crack the plastic. This can be prevented to a certain degree by laying a piece of tape along the line that you want cut -- J Goh

Gun Mounts

I made a mount for the old .30 cal by using a length of plastic tubing (that had an inside diameter that the mount would fit into) and glueing that to a piece of sheet styrene. I drilled a hole through the styrene and used a nut & bolt through the mounting hole on the floor between the seats to mount the rig to the jeep. To remove it, just unbolt the setup! -- Rob Sorrels


When the belt buckles on my 21st Century uniforms broke, I replaced them all with 18 gauge aluminum wire I got at my local hardware store. The material bends nicely, and it looks great. I used silver wire, but I think you can get wire that is darker. -- mtbbikeseth

I used some .030 wire from a hobby shop to mend a 21st century belt buckle. -- Andy

Cleaning Gear

See Cleaning and Washing

Glueing Gear

I used "vinyl liquid patch" (VLP) to repair some holes in a raft and man I couldn't be happier. This stuff is used for fixing all kinds of tears and cuts in vinyl. I own an upholstery shop and use it a lot on small tears in auto upholstery or furniture. I think you can buy it at most hardware and auto parts stores. I also used it to attach a couple of straps to a vintage life vest. Now my two wounded vintage pieces look as good as new. -- Noxaf

The safest way to repair a pin hole in a raft is a teeny patch of vinyl tape. If you want it to look really authentic, use a contrasting color. If you don't want it to show, use acrylic paint and match the color. I am assuming you want to be able to inflate it. If you don't want to risk melting it and don't want to go to the trouble of matching the paint, you can make it look inflated by filling it with clean sand. Then when you don't want it to look inflated anymore, wash out the sand. The sand trick works well when you want these to stay in place on your displays even when your inflatable doesn't have a leak. -- J. C.

To patch a small hole in a vinyl raft for display, neatly use just a drop of crazy glue on the damaged spot. I say neatly because if you miss or smudge the glue it will discolor the raft. Then, don't mess with it! I usually let it set overtnight then inflate it a bit. -- Andy Cabrera

Epoxies should never be used on any plastic or styrene models on the outsides where it might show. Chemical reactions will eventually cause the plastic to weaken and deform, and any paint you put over the epoxy will eventually develope cracks. Avoid epoxy putty as a gap filler or build up material. Use Squadron "green" putty or Testor's "white" putty. Both are formulated to bond permanently to styrene and will never degrade it. Avoid using any adhesive or lubricant on your models that is petroleum based! It will eventually react with the plastic and degrade it. -- Richard A. Lewis

Here are some glues that won't work on the Sunny Smile Strike Force Tank so you don't waste you time: ZapAGap or any cynoacrylite, Model glue, Elmers, Hot glue- hi or low temp. What is even more difficult is painting this kind of plastic. I still haven't found anything that won't chip off easily. -- Mark B.

See also Broken Limbs

Reshaping Gear

See Making Parts and Accessories.

Storing Gear

Get one of those big Rubbermaid latching footlockers. Try and find a hunter green and grey one. Take it, paint some custom offical Mil.Spec marking on it. Use yellow and black caution tape and trick it up. Make it the 'Offical GI Joe storage area', your kid will eat it up. -- Steve Harrison

Painting Gear

I would try using acrylic paints on rubber items because the paints are flexible. I don't think there is anything that will stay on forever, but the acrylics are pretty durable. Back in the late '70s, I painted a design on a vinyl tire cover that was on the back of my van. The painting out-lasted the tire cover. -- Rob Sorrels

Acrylics are very easy to mix to get what ever color you want. I keep a good supply of the primary colors and a box of paper dixie cups (the small bathroom kind) for mixing the paint in. This way I can buy the less expensive stuff and experiment with color:

Here are some good mixes using the primaries red, yellow, & blue

Olive drab #1: 5 parts yellow 4 parts red, 1 part blue
Olive drab #2: 5 parts brown, 2 parts green
Desert tan: 10 parts yellow 3 parts red, 1 part blue

Like cooking, you have to experiment a bit to get it to taste the way you like it. -- Matthew

For painting vinyl or rubber, you should be able to find vinyl paint in a spray can in an auto parts store. I know that you can buy it in quarts at an auto paint supply shop to shoot in a spray gun. It's used for refinishing vinyl car tops. -- Donnie

Hard styrene (as in rifles) can be painted with enamels (model paints). Soft plastics have a plasticizer that won't let enamels dry. For soft plastic use acrylics. The plasticizer in the flexible plastic won't allow enamel paint to dry and it'll stay tacky forever. -- Rob Sorrels

Before painting, wash the item well with dish soap and a toothbrush. Dry it well. Prime it if you need to (for example when a light color on a dark piece). Don't get in a hurry. Have fun! -- Rob Sorrels

You may have to sand the item first with a fine grit paper. Then prime with a color primer closest to the paint color you want to use. Then paint. It takes a little more time and effort, but the paint job should last a little longer. -- I Zhevsk

After you finish painting, spray the item with a clear overcoat. This will smooth out the item and make it look more "factory" in appearance. You can choose from flat, gloss, and semi-gloss. I like the semi-gloss, but try 'em all and see which you like best. -- Rob Sorrels

To paint the kind of plastic used in a Sunny Smike tank, try first priming with white Krylon spraypaint (found at Wal-Mart). Two brands of paint you might choose for the final coat: 21ST Century Space Age Paint and Top Flite Advanced Formula LustreKote. Here's the url for some info on these products: -- Alex G


A short dip in boiling water and the head will soften and pop right off. Repeat the process to put it on another neck. The head will harden back up." -- Don Thompson

"On the question of hard heads, a hair dryer also will work and doesn't get the figure wet." --

Here's how to take off the head of an action man snow board raider (IAM). Simply grab the head and pull upward until it comes off. Putting another head on works the same way, only you push. Sometimes, if the head is hard, warming it with a hair dryer makes it soft and easier to put on/take off. I have done this four or five times and never damaged anything. Don't worry about the little pin. -- Bob S. I have used the unorthodox method of heating hard heads in the microwave starting at about 10 seconds on high and increasing the time in 2-3 second increments on stubborn heads. You do have to be careful or you will melt them. -- RRG-Zach-La

If you want to trade the heads with someone, do it with the posts. It is easy to change the post. Simply lift it up and slip a small screw driver or ice pick into the elastic hole to hold it in place, then just slip the post off the hook. If you insist on taking the head off the post, then use some warm (hot) water to soften the head. -- Matthew


Painted Heads

"You can use acetone (I bought some at Home Depot) to remove paint from figures. I used it on some cheap Frontieer Hero dolls with really fakey looking facial hair and it worked well." -- JM

I have two bottles of paint remover for plastics in front of me. Both are marketed for model railroaders. Both work safely on plastics, but require about an hour of soaking. The products are:

  • "Scalecoat" Division of Quality Craft Models Inc. Northumberland, PA 17857 (Purchased at a hobby shop)
  • "Chameleon" Manufactured by Custom Hobbyist, Inc No address Given (Purchased at a Train Show)
-- Bruce

Pine Sol will normally remove paint, try that first. If that fails, bring out the big gun - oven cleaner. Don't try this on the visor though, it will ruin it. Test in a inconspicuous place first. -- Meerk

Here's a good paint removal tip. Automotive brake fluid, it's cheap and works well. I build scale models and have used it many, many times. You can soak or apply heavily with a tooth brush, be careful not to get it on any other painted surfaces though, it can work pretty quickly on light coats. You can also use it on spots with a Q-tip. Be sure to rinse in water to remove all residue. The brake fluid is water soluble so it will clean up nicely. -- Richard and Denise Pelletier

I decided to removed the paint from the lips of my brown hair-green eyed 30th Aniversary Joe I started out with a bottle of nail polish remover and a Q-Tip. Nail polish remover is a diluted form of acetone so I reasoned that it wouldn't do any damage to the vinyl of the head. And I was right! I just swabbed over the lips with the nail polish remover laden Q-Tip until the paint started to come off. The trick is, when the Q-Tip becomes saturated with paint to go to a fresh one. Also, don't put so much nail polish remover on it that it drips or disaster could loom. The only problem was the deep crevice between the lips, the Q-Tip wouldn't touch it. Fortunately, the paint was softened from the remover, and my trusty pen knife was able to scrape it all out, with absolutely no damage to the head at all! I doubt you could tell that there was ever paint there now. My friend couldn't. Don't forget the wash off any remaining nail polish remover residue, as it could corrode the head as time goes on.. Soaking a head in this stuff would probably be a bad idea. -- Bob SS. Yes this would leech out all the plastisizers in the head and cause it to become brittle and crack. Just use a good acrylic like liquitex and paint over it. -- Wolfman

Use Remove-zit. You can get it from Cotswolds. It removes the paint with only one application. -- Snoserpent

I've used oven cleaner to remove the "chrome" from plastic model kits and the engine on the HOF Strike Cycle. I'm not sure how it works on paint, but it does an immediate job on the chrome! -- Rob

Try Easy-Off Oven Cleaner. It removes paint pretty well, usually leaves the plastic alone. Check it on a part that doesn't show to make sure it won't damage the surface. -- Trent

Want to remove the painted-on stars from the General's helmet? Buff them off with a little 600 grit sandpaper. Follow with polishing compound, or toothpaste and it'll look like they were never there. -- Meerk

Flocked hair

One way to remove the flocking is to soak the head for a couple of days in ordinary rubbing alcohol. Then the fuzz can be scraped off very easily with a blunt edged knife. Be careful not to scrape or cut into the actual vinyl of Joe's head. Also-you will be left with a yellow glue stain from the flocking process that can not be removed. Not such a problem on the head section because your paint job will cover it-but it can be a problem in the former bearded areas. I usually dry the hair out on a paper towel and save it for reflocking problem AT guys who need the Hair Club for -- Johnn Medeiros

"Boil the head and then soak it in alcohol." -- Conddor

"Be cautious when scraping off flocked hair because sometimes the heads are painted underneath and you may louse up an opportunity to get a clean painted head out of the deal." -- Don Thompson

Unable to dissolve the remaining glue residue, from a fuzz head, I picked up some automotive sandpaper (3M Imperial Wetordry, 1500 grit) and was able to sand the stuff off. I kept the paper wet, and by folding it, was able to get in the tricky areas -- behind the ears, around the scar, etc. I was even able to remove the residue in his mouth, sanding carefully so as not to take the paint off. -- Rob Leigh

I want to add another tip to Rob Leigh's procedure to removing the yellow glue residue. After using the super-fine grit sandpaper, I have found that two or three mild applications of baby oil to the sanded areas will help hide any abrasions to the plastic skin. You should apply one coat a day, allowing the plastic to soak up the oil. The oil seems to have no detrimental effects on the plastic. -- Steve Stanton

After removing the flocking, I repaint them with acrylic paints from the hobby shop. You can get them almost original with a little practice. I have even messed around with leaving mustaches, goatees, long sideburns, etc. when I remove the hair from the face. I use a little dixie cup to set the heads in overnight in the alcohol - its fits great. -- Conddor

Here's what I've found works best for repairing "Bald Spots": Removing & Repairing "Life-like Hair". The secret is....Paint remover! By using one of the slow acting paint strippers (for example:Safest Stripper) you can remove the hair from almost any fuzz head completely.

Just apply to the hair/beard and allow to sit (at least 2 hours), then using the BACK of an Exacto-knife blade scrape the hair off. Be careful when you do this as the plastic of the head gets slightly soft and the blade can dig in to the surface. It won`t all come off in one try,you will have have to reapply and do it again, but eventually you will get nearly all of it off.

The next step is the most Important, In the areas that didn`t come clean, you must apply regular paint stripper. WARNING: This stuff is very CAUSTIC, IT WILL BURN YOUR EYES AND SKIN, ALWAYS WEAR EYE PROTECTION. And I mean that.

Anyway, apply to the remaining hair/glue, wait a minute then scrape the area clean. I have never had one that would not come clean, and I've done over 30.

Sometimes, the area where the beard is will be slightly discoloured. If the stain is bad, add a "5 o`clock shadow" to hide it. You can either paint one on or "Tattoo" one on. The tattoo method is as follows: Using a fine needle,poke the beard area of the head, about a million times (or at least it seems like a million !;>} ) Then apply acrylic paint in the correct colour, and wipe off almost immediately, don't try to do the whole area at once, apply to a small area then wipe and so on until you cover the whole beard area.

Another Warning: don`t get the regular stripper on the painted areas of the face (unless you want to remove them too,) and use the smallest amount of stripper you can - it really softens the plastic of the head. Put much of this stuff on or leave it too long, and you'll scrape off chunks of Joe`s face! (makes for interesting Horror effects!)

The safe stripper will not remove the paint generally. If you find a fuzz head that is a painted hair underneath, use only the safe stripper and you`ll gain a painted hair figure. I've never had the safe stripper damage the paint on a head. -- Kevin Merklley


Avoid the temptation of twisting your vintage Joes to make the bodies seem tighter. It works in the short run, but stresses the other parts and can lead to more serious damage. -- GI Medic in Cotswolds

I have found that a "loop puller" from a pot holder kit is a great tool when restringing a doll. You can use it to fish the cord out of the body and to hold the hook across the neck cavity when removing the neck. -- Don Thompson

Say you have a loose Joe foot or forearm peg, use teflon thread seal tape (available in hardware stores) and wrap about two inches of it tightly around the peg. It will "form fit" itself. Insert it back in the hole of the other limb and it will hold like magic and still have the mobility. It will also help keep Joe's feet from coming off in the boots so easily." -- Gitrooper

The best way to tighten your Joe involves a partial re-string. You need to shorten the single elastic that connects the two legs and the neck. You need a long tool with a little hook on it like a crochet needle and a thin phillips screwdriver.

  1. Holding Joe securely, pull his head away from the neck hole until you see the elastic that loops around the neck hook.
  2. Push the screwdriver through the loop to hold it securely above the neck hole.
  3. This will allow you to easily unhook the neck from the elastic.
  4. Set the head/neck aside.
  5. Pull and separate the lower section away from the upper.
    Now you will have Joes two legs and abdomen section free to work on.
  6. You can shorten (tighten) the elastic by folding it an inch or so and then stitching it at that fold point. Make sure you stitch it securely.
    Now you can "re-string" Joe by putting the hook down through the neck hole past the arm elastics and out through the bottom of the chest hole.
  7. Hook your tool onto your tightened elastic and pull it up through the neck hole again. This will take alot of elbow grease. It will be very tight now..
  8. Once you get it pulled just past the neck hole, stick in your screwdriver again to hold it above the neck hole.
  9. Now, you can easily rehook the neck hook to the elastic.
  10. Pull out the screwdriver, and you're done.
Joe is back to tight fighting shape! This process will also work for restringing or tightening the arm elastic as well. It sounds a little tough, but once you do it, it becomes really easy. -- John Medeiros

I have been able to tighten quite a few ME's by simply sewing a fold in the elastic by the left thigh. This seems to be the best way to go for now. -- John Fusco

As for the floppy joints, I suggest the following (but only if you are brave): Grab some slide lock pliers, (you know, the big ones you use on the sink) and squeeze each pin and rivet gently until it begins to compress. Use the very edge of the plier face, and avoid contact with the plastic. I found this works better that tapping the joint with the hammer because you can watch the joint for stress cracks and stop at any time. You may experience a little paint flaking, but that is easily repainted. You also may want to wrap the pliers in a thin cloth. -- John Fusco

I also have noticed that a few ME's have bent neck pins that screw up their head movement. -- John Fusco

My ME joe had a bent neck pin. The bend was 30-40 degrees off center. The head leaned to the left. I slowly bent the pin back to vertical, waiting for it to break, but it didn't. I assumed it was a bad case of whiplash in shipping, since it was so loose anyway. -- Daniel Edwards

I repaired a Cotswold Elite figure that had its arms come off. Anybody that has seen the cord inside these things should understand why. Here is how I fixed him:

  1. Get a rubber band, the size that is used on newspapers and triple it up.
  2. Take two bread twists and twist them together to form a piece about 4 or 5 inches long.
  3. Tie one end of the bread tie to the rubber band, after attaching the rubber band to one of of the arms, and thread the bread ties along with the other end of the rubber band through the body.
  4. Hook the other end of the rubber band on the other arm hook and then untie the bread ties. Your arms should snap right into place.

I don't know how long the rubber band will hold before it becomes brittle. It can't be any worse than that stupid cord that is in the figure though. This actually is a pretty easy fix as far as the arms are concerned. Give it a try if you ever have a figure do this to you. -- Jem

Needing to replace the o-ring in an arm, I found that just wrapping a small rubber band around the joint where the o-ring used to be works just fine. The rubber band will pop inside the body cavity, so you can't even tell a non-traditional repair method was used, and the arm returns to full posability. -- Benjamin Adams

Restringing arms and legs is easy except for the hip pins. They can be tricky to remove with out breaking them. Try a small awl or leather needle to pop them out. Then use some rubber cement to put them back in. To pull the rubber strings I use a coat hanger. The end makes a good hook and it is easy to pull the leg string out of the neck hole to attach the head. Do the same with the arm string . Hook one shoulder then pull the string through with the hanger and connect the other side. -- LordVader

When restringing arms and legs, I don't bother with the thigh pins myself. I leave them in if still serviceable. I bought a little bag of teeny tie wraps (the zip strip type) and just tie wrap the elastic loop to the still in there thigh pin. It works great with no noticable looseness for the extra .05 extra distance. -- Aaron Luck

I found a way to fix AT shoulder holsters. Somebody mentioned a while back using plastic-headed pins to replace the clip or peg that's always broken off. I tried that, and it didn't work, because, of course, no glue known can adhere to that kind of plastic. So, I tried this: pull the plastic head off one of those pins, very carefully. You might need to drill the hole out slightly with a pin vise. Then run an ordinary straight pin through the holster from the inside. Cut it off to the desired length, and use krazy glue to fasten that plastic head onto it. It works because you're gluing styrene to metal, where you can get a good enough bond. I fixed three holsters in about 15 minutes. -- Ken WWilson


Painted Heads

Most paints (model, spray, etc.) never dry on the toy-type plastic. One paint that does is automotive touch-up paint. I use it to touch up paint on my old Star Wars figures. -- Mark Bradley

I retouch some of my vintage painted heads because it makes them look better. I always use acrylic paint like Liquitex. This way, it can be removed down the line if one prefers the original state. -- John Medeiros

I have seen people use Sharpie brand markers to touch up black painted heads. -- Don Thompson

I hate to admit it, but sharpie markers work pretty well for very small spots. They'll come off with acetone if you want to "unrestore" it. -- Richard Knepper

The only painted head I've touched up was a black-haired foreign soldier. I just used black acrylic paint from a tube, spread thinly on a wadded-up kleenex, and rubbed it lightly around the head as if I was applying polish. It fixed the bald spots right up, and the result is close to indistinguishable to the original paint in terms of gloss. It dried right nicely, too. -- Benjamin Adams

Repainting a figure might cause it to come out too shiny. You can make the appearance more like the original by using some dull coat spray on the head. I use this to take the sheen off the plastic on the model RR kits. I think it'll work well on a painted head. -- C Cabrera

The one part I seem to have trouble on is right around the base of the neck-- this is the part that has to flex to put the head back on the torso. Regular acrylic doesn't have enough flex to it, so it peels a bit. You can help this by sanding the rubber-- it gives the surface more "tooth" for the paint to grab onto. I've mixed acrylic silicone caulking (available at hardware stores) to acrylic paint before-- this improves its adhesion and flexibility-- but it leaves a slightly glossy sheen. It's worth playing with if you're having big problems when you paint on flexible materials. And it's a lot cheaper than buying those specialty Hollywood mask paints. Jimbob

I've found that Testor's acrylic paints work well (water wash up too). A splash of tan and the Nick heads from Cotswold began to look better (also, some eye reduction with flesh tones, etc). -- Bruce Wilhite

Flocked Heads

"I've repaired flocked hair rubs using spirit gum and hair scrapped off an old head. Spirit gum is a theatrical adhesive used for attaching fake beards and such. Its nice because it goes on thin, but stays where you put it. After applying the adhesive to the bald spot just pat on some of the scrapped off hair and your joe looks good as new. I'm not sure about the long term holding power, that remains to be seen." -- Porter

"Putting new fuzz on the fuzz heads is called . . . reflocking. Michaels craft store and most hobby stores carry the adhesive as well as the flocking materials. You might also try cut up acrylic pom poms. Also little vials of flocking are available from: Ken's Kustom Fuzzi-Fur, PO Box 85, Fremont, OH Zip ?? (This from the Barbie Restoration BB)" -- PDXVixen

"I usually have luck by using another donor head, that's in worse shape of course, and using tweezers to pull out small spots of hair to transplant. Super glue usually works good. It will look ok as long as it's not a huge amount of hair loss." -- Dr. Quest

I saw a cool picture of a fuzz head that had been "mohawked" and was dressed as a D-Day paratrooper. If the bare area is on the sides, just give him a mohawk! -- Rob Sorrels

If the bald area is larger than a pencil,don`t waste your time. You probably won`t be happy with the result. You have to have a "donor" head. It must have the same colour hair. Apply the Safe stripper to the donor head as above. Quite often, when using the the stripper the hair will come off in sheets. Save these for repairs. Cut the hair to fit the bald spot or glue several small pieces into the area. Try to fill the area completely. Now, use fine point magic markers to colour in the area around and on the bald spot. Just dot the marker against the head. If you haven't noticed, the hair has 3 colours of hair strands (except black) and you should try to match these colours. If you are careful,this will work perfectly. -- Kevin Merkley

The biggest problem is lint. Get the lint out before you remove the fuzz otherwise it is a chore to pick out. -- Mark Redmond

There are two ways to go on reflocking a head.

  1. The "low expence" way is to get some heads to sacrifice. These need not be Joes, but they should be a good color match. What you do is pluck a patch out with a tweezers, then carefully dip one end into a little pool of superglue and place it on the head to be patched. Take your time and use minimal glue or you will just end up with a tweezer with the tips glued together.
  2. The expensive way is to reproduce what they did in the factory. You build an electro-static gun. This puts a small electric charge on the little "hair" fibers and uses an electrode to shoot them out a nozzle on to a preglued Joe head. This may sound insane! But other hobbiests do it. Look though model railroad books for articles about "Static-Grass". They will tell you how to build it all. The main hang-up is no good source for a good color match on the fibers. If you want bright green haired Joes, you are set. I did collect some purple, either for punk Joes, or if you look close at the dark hair, you will see little purple fibers in there. -- Bryan Broocks

I use the easy but less professional method of reflocking Joe. I got really fed up with picking up a piece of hair, touching it to glue, and then putting it on Joe's head carefully. Instead, I separate all the little Joe hairs, scrape them together in a little pile, apply thin layer of glue to bald spot with toothpick, and sprinkle hair on bald spot. Wait a moment, and scrape off excess with clean toothpick. The hair looks fine doesn't have the smooth characteristics of the other way. I don't rub Joe heads, so it looks good enough to me. -- Aaron


Making HOFA Sized Feet

" I'm frustrated that the Joe feet are too big to fit into Ken's shoes (which are easier to come by than the real thing). I found I could make replacement feet by -
  1. buying a cheap Ken doll
  2. cutting the foot off at mid calf
  3. using an sharp knife, cut the plastic around at the ankle
  4. make a vertical cut from the ankle line to the mid-calf
  5. peel off the extra leg "insulation"
    what's left is a little hard plastic post
  6. trip just the tip off the nibs in the post
    it will now fit into a Cotswold or Joe leg just fine."
-- JM

Has anyone modified the feet of a masterpiece joe so it can wear HOF boots.

I modified the feet of a masterpiece Joe so he can wear HOF boots by cutting the toes off. But the boot still fits awkward. -- Thor Sadler

You don't need to modify the feet of a ME so he can wear HOF boots They'll fit OK but you gotta push em and pull em on with all your might! Lots of baby powder helps too! -- Rob Sorrels

Also helps if you heat the boots up a bit with hot water or a hair dryer. It makes them a bit softer and more pliable - just be careful you don't over heat and melt them. -- Tim

I usually trim the heels and sometimes the toes of the CC feet in order to use the Soldiers of the World boots. -- Rob Sorrels

Cosmetic Surgery

Do your Joes ever say to you, "My wrists are too skinny, and made knees make me look like funny." or "When I wear a T-shirt and shorts, Ken and Barbie make fun of me!" Look no further, I have solved the problem! Let me explain. With the advent of the British SAS figure from Cots, I got to thinking that he will look funny in a short sleeve shirt and shorts (elbow, wrist, knee, and feet rivets and joints showing). I tested the following method tonight on one of my Joes, and surprisingly, it turned out pretty good! Here's what you do:

  1. Go to a craft store and buy some Sculpey III in tan or flesh color.
  2. Apply a small amount of it to the joint or rivet you want to cover, and press firmly in place.
  3. Rub it in to the neighboring plastic, while smoothing and blending, getting it down to the level of the plastic.
  4. Use how ever much you need, or feel is necessary for the right look.
  5. If you move the joint and cracks appear, simply rub and smooth it back in.
  6. I don't think there will be any long term effects (cracking, drying, etc.), but I am not totally positive.
  7. Warning: This will probably be a hell of a job to clean out, so I am only using them on certain custom figures of mine, and only using Cotswold bodies, or ones where the money value doesn't really matter.
  8. And don't bake the figure, in the oven, with the sculpey on it! -- Joe TTucker

Here's a neat "fix" I found this week after trimming too much plastic off the inside of a 21st Century Samitch's knee joint: Take some paper tape (the kind for using with gauze bandages) and wrap it around the broken part. The paper tape is thin enough that it looks like a scale bandage! -- Rob

Bent Wrists for HOF Figures

The HOF figures have limited bendability but one way I have gotten around that is to ...

  1. Take the hand and bend it down till it touches the wrist.
  2. Tape the wrist and hand together.
  3. Lay them on the seat of a car in the hot sun for a few days.
  4. When you remove the tape the hands do not return to their original position, but have a nice bend in them that makes it easier for them to hold rifles and machine pistols....
-- Maddog


Customized Faces

You can also use Sculpy to customize the Joes' heads. I've added a full beard and longer hair to a Grunt. Didn't even take off his head, just stripped him and sat him on a cookie sheet in the oven to bake the Sculpy (told him it was a sauna...) He gets a bit rubbery when he first comes out of the oven but he returns to normal real quick. -- Rob

Another good modeling compound I've used to modify Joes is DAS Pronto, found in the same aisle of the craft store as Sculpey. Nice thing about it, it air-hardens, so you don't have to put your figures in the gas chamber! I used it to mold an Apollo "Snoopy" headgear on a deflocked AT Joe and painted it with water-based acrylic paint. -- Steve

The IAM body on the 12" SLU figures is great. I prefer it to the to skinny classic joe body. The only problem are the ears; they stick out too much. I cut out a wedge of plastic behind each and super-glued them down. Now thay can actually wear helmets. -- Mark Bradley

I have painted Cotswold's heads with acrylic paints. I usually put a thin wash of red paint over the face to add some life to them. It is easy to simulate the scar with acrylic paints also. You can build it up to look like it was molded on. I haven't made any look as good as the vintage joes, but regardless I'm pretty happy with their Jake head. -- W. Tracy

When changing Natalie's hair color, use an imprimation paint first (or before painting any rubber made items). You should find it in any paint shop or hardware store. -- Yoon

Camo Face

Use regular hunters cream face paint to make camo faces. It looks real good wipes off easily. -- Charlie

If you are painting the face with a camo pattern, take a spare head, air brush the camo on, and then switch heads for "garrison duty." -- Coop

Another possibility for camo face is to get the HOFA Swamp Fighter Mission Gear which comes with camo sticks. -- Thor Sadler

If you make your own camo paint, try buying a camo-compact designed for hunters from Walmart (or equivalent). -- Mark H. Walsh

A few years ago, the 3 3/4" figures came with little tubes of camo face paint intended to be used by the kids who bought the figures. However, I have found that it does work on plastic, as well, and washes off without a trace. Advisory, though, it also doesn't dry completely, so be careful how you handle any figures you put it on. It will also stain clothing. Nasty stuff for face paint, yes? -- GI Trekker

For those who have access to such things, here is an NSN for camo face paint. It works great and comes off with a toothbrush and Softscrub: NSN 6850-01-262-0635 Paint, Face, Camouflage. This is a compact case not the old camo stick. It also contains the right colors for your AA figures. You can apply it with your fingers or a cotton swab. Remember, dark on the high spots and light on the low spots. I have left this stuff on for over two weeks and it came right off with the above mentioned materials. -- Karl Clapp

I use the regular camo face paint for humans. It goes on nicely, is the right colors, and comes off with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush. To apply it, it is best to use the little applicators for eye shadow. These can be picked up at any place that sells makeup (i.e. drugstore). I use regular issue camo face paint, but I have also tried the stuff you buy in the sporting goods section of any major retailer. Both work great. -- Karl Clapp

Use a black and a green Crayola crayon. I did on my two snipers and they look perfect. The Crayola does not smear and can come off very easily and doesn't affect the Joe in any way. Also since the Joe has a glossy finish, you need a cammie paint that is dull and will take the shine off, and the crayon does it perfectly. I got the idea from one of the HOF Joes that came with a crayon for camouflage paint. -- Rebonitz

Another way that works real well and cleans up fast. Now don't laugh, I use Mr. Sketch instant water color markers. They apply easy and thick and stays wet for a while as I take my finger and rub it in and mix the -- Michael Venture

Another source of Joe body paint is Liquitex Acrylic Paint (available at art supply stores). The paint comes off rather easily with either soap and water or alcohol. -- Dice Man

A company called Tamiya makes some excellent water-based paints that i are strong and durable that should be perfect for the plastic of G.I.Joe faces. -- GI Trekker

I applied some water based acrylic paint from a craft store to Flints face, left it on for a while, and then wiped it off with a damp rag. It came right off and made a real nice diagonal pattern across the face with forest green and earth brown (out of black). -- KevHead

Making 5 O'Clock Shadows

"I liked Sgt Savage's 5 o'clock shadow and finally figured out how to do it even better than Hasbro. All you need is a straight pin (I use a "T" pin - better grip), some acrylic paint & brush, and lots of extra time. I dab on some paint in the beard area, then commence poking small holes with the pin through the paint. Carefully wipe off the paint with a damp paper towel, leaving paint in the pin pricks. A little practice and you can make a neat 5 o'clock shadow! It does take lots of time and effort as you have to dab paint, poke holes, wipe off paint, check progress, and do it all over again until the entire beard area is done." -- Rob

"I've been painting a thin "wash" of gray acrylic in the beard area" -- JoeBlitz

Here's a thought for that five o'clock shadow. Cover the upper area of his face with a tissue or something that will "mask" it off. Dip an old toothbrush (trust me) into water-based acrylic paint of an appropriate color -- probably black or brown. Run your finger across the toothbrush pointed at the Joe's face. It may take several sessions of this to get a complete "beard", and test out the technique on a piece of paper first so that you have proper "distance" from your "target". Make sure the figure isn't wearing a shirt and that you wash your hands before handling the figure again -- or at least your paint-smeared finger! Later, when you wish to remove the "shadow", given that this is water-based paint, it should come off fairly easily. -- GI Trekker Have you tried this!? It's my understanding that water-based acrylics do not wash off with water once the paint is dry! -- Rob Sorrels To remove acrylics use alcohol. It breaks down the emulsion bonds. If you want removable paint, use gauche. Its like a thick water color. -- Wolfman

I've never tried it myself, but if I was going to, I'd try using a grease pencil. Dot the area you want to "grubby up" and rub it around with a finger tip. I think it should clean off with soap & H2O and maybe a toothbrush. -- Joe Shipley

To add a temporary 5'O clock shadow, take a mechanical .05 pencil and proceed to speckle his face. A smudge should remain when you remove the 5 o'clock shadow. I have not done this, but in a pinch it's my recommendation. -- Thor Sadler

Making Eye Shadows

Thinned gray acrylic is good for under eye shadowing. It makes those guys look like they've been sleep deprived for days. You can deepen it with more layers." -- JoeBlitz

Modifying the Hands

If you want your HOFA and CC figures to hold their weapons better, take a sharp knife (X-Acto works real nice) and slice the trigger finger away from the others. The figures can realistically hold all kinds of neat weapons! -- Rob Sorrels Sadly, in about 10 years when that plastic and rubber begins to dry out, guess which finger is going to break off first. -- Brant Rusch

I have replaced some of my Joe's hands with them Marx/Captain Action hands by shaving down the "ball" end and making a post. They can hold anything and look alot better when Joe is tilting his helmet up, or smokin' 'em if he's got 'em. There's no up and down movement but it still rotates. -- Kevin M. Epling

To put a Cotswold cigarette into the hand of a CC, HOF, or HOFA figure, poke a small hole between the fingers and fit the cigarette into the hole! -- Rob Sorrels

Polo Moreno, aka Ape Joe, makes great reproduction Captain Action hands for Joe. They sell for $14.00 per set. He also sells reproduction feet and a reproduction head to fit on an existing vintage and ME neck post. -- Mike Leon

To get one of the original production run 21 century figures to be able to hold large objects: Pop his hands off; drop them into boiling water for a second; take them out; place the object in his hands; let cool and then place the hands back on the body. Later production runs are supposed to have less stiff hands. -- JM

Modifying the Body

I improved the articulation of the SLU/IAM figures by using a Dremmel motor tool. I proceeded to router away the plastic on top of the front hip areas. This allowed the legs to raise higher toward the chest. The plastic in this area is pretty thick and if you are cautious you can clear away alot of plastic without leaving gaping holes. -- Rob Sorrels

The CC Joes elbow articulation isn't as good as vintage Joe's. That can be fixed by a little trimming with an X-Acto knife. I trimmed away about 1/8" of the bicep area around the elbow joint and now the arms will bend enough for the figures to hold binoculars up to their eyes. It looks good, and didn't take much work! -- Rob Sorrels

Along with the improved elbow articulation, I also increased the articulation in the CC's wrists by some minor trimming of the plastic on the forearm at the wrist joint. -- Rob

Rappelling Gear

To make rappeling gear use a paper clip as a D-ring and a coke can tab as a Figure 8 ring. -- Thor Sadler


Something I have done for patches over the years is to just have patches photocopied from books and then reduced to the appropriate 1/6th scale. I have had then reduced on to either sticky paper as well as regular paper. With the regular paper I have just had to use fabric glue to attach them to the the material. One can always find a mom and pop shop to make the color copies for you. -- Mad Dog

Corel Draw 7.0 has a fairly representative selection of military insignia, including some foreign stuff. All the Army divisions are represented, and so are SAC and TAC. No SF arrowhead though. -- Coop

There is a product out there called Wonder Under. It allows you to take cloth or paper insignias and convert them to iron-on patches. Wonder Under works great with the cloth insignia you get from Cotswold. There are two grades of the material-thick and thin. Get the thin grade because you can cut the Wonder Under after it's attached to the insignia. The thick grade will not allow you to do this. -- Chris Henry

I was trying to come up with a way to make patches from my police department to the Joe scale. I tried different transfer papers with no success. What I finally did was got some white iron on patching material from the sewing section at WalMart. This is the stuff your Mom used to iron over holes in your jeans. I then scanned my patches, reduced them to the appropriate size and then taped a piece of the patch material onto a piece of paper and ran it through the printer. The patches were then cut out and ironed directly onto the uniform. The resulting patch was a perfect reproduction of the patch. Try it! -- Mark D

I've scanned, scaled, and printed insignia onto coated ink-jet paper, then sealed the paper(both sides) with Krylon Crystal Clear, an acrylic spray coating. ScotchGuard might work, too. I just use Elmer's glue to attach the insignia to the uniform. It worked great on a Waffen SS sleeve eagle & cuff title. Turned out very sharp! -- Greg


An easy way to get little daggers is to cut the cocktail swords (the ones used to spear a cherry in a real life human-sized drink) down to dagger-size. Then paint them and put a coat of clear, flat varnish on them. -- ZMOQ

Making Sandbags

I've been making my own sandbags to display with my Joes. Most fabric stores sell burlap pretty cheap. I've been lining the sandbags I make with lightweight fabric. Sew it together inside-out, leaving one end unsewn. I stuff mine with aquarium gravel so it has some heft and sits where I put it. The nice thing about doing it yourself is you can make them as large or as small as you want. -- Rob Sorrels

If so go to the local sewing outlet and buy some brown burlap. There are usually remnants available. Cut the burlap into strips 6" long and 2" wide. Sew the strip down each side with black thread. Turn inside out. Put in 2-3 tablespoons of aquarium gravel. ( No sand-it runs out ) Be careful not to over fill. Sew end shut. You now have a "stackable" sandbag. You can turn out a couple of dozen of these in an hour. -- Oz

I made some sandbags from scratch using burlap and aquarium gravel for fill. They are really simple to make if you have a sewing machine and a good seamstress to guide you (read WIFE). -- Gary K. Stoedter

I used dry beans to fill my sandbags. The little white ones that come in one pound bags. They work like they're full of BBs, but they are a lot lighter! And you won't have the problem with 'moisture', like with kitty litter! I didn't think of aquarium gravel, though. That's a good one! -- Scott

If you don't like the new fluff filled 21st century sandbags, slit open one end at the seam, drain the bag, then add unused cat litter, then sew the bag shut. The sand bag acts like the real thing. One caveat, keep the fixed bags away from your kitties. -- Richard Manny

Looking for fill for your homemade sandbags? Craft stores sell what they call "poly-pellets" they are nothing more than little polyethylene "beanies." The craft stores charge anywhere from $2 to $3 per pound. Polyethylene sells for much less if you get if from the source. Use the old yellow pages and let your fingers do the walking. Look up a local plastic supplier and call them about purchasing some "Polyethylene Resin" for injection molding, extrusion or some other similiar process. Usually it is sold in 50 pound bags but you may be able to get a smaller sample. It shouldn't cost more than .60 cents per pound from them. -- Collin Sorensen

Making Pouches

M-16 Ammo Pouch

I've been making my own M-16 ammo pouches for my Vietnam squad. The USSM belts are my basic starting point. I cut each pouch off that belt. I then use balsa to make magazines so the pouches are filled out in a rectangular shape. I color the top of the balsa black so if it shows it doesn't look like Joe's got a hunk o' wood in his pouch. Stitch the flap shut. Use several stitches close together in the center of that flap to represent the closure lock-flap of the real thing. I use a few loose stitches on the back to create a loop to slide a Hasbro web belt thru. Now you have a decent ammo pouch for your VN guys. To finish off the gear, I use a Cotswolds "H" harness, Hasbro canteen & cover, and made my own first aid pouch. -- Rob Sorrels

First Aid Pouch

The small first aid pouch was usually carried on the harness up by the shoulder. To make a decent one for Joe, I use the knife scabbard from the USSM web belt. Turn it inside out and trim the extra fabric carefully from the sides. Cut off the round bottom so its square. stitch that end shut. Turn it rightside out. Trim the other end in a slightly rounded shape (to represent the flap) leaving enough of the old sheath to be a first aid kit, and stitch that end together keeping its rounded shape. Fold that rounded flap over and put one stitch in the center to represent the snap of the original. Use a marker to color that stitch black (or use black thread). Sew the pouch to the web gear near the shoulder. -- Rob Sorrels

Making Jumpsuits

If you're making your own, try crinkle cut nylon. It works great for jumpsuits! -- Wolfman

Making Cammouflage Cloth

I haven't ever tried this, but someone posted quite awhile ago that Kinkos and other copy shops can make t-shirt transfers (as can several color printers). They made a camo pattern on their computer and had Kinkos print it on some material. -- Rob Sorrels

Making Netting

If you absolutely, positively need some 1/6 scale camo netting in a hurry - ie, the Diorama goes on display in one hour - look for those mesh bags they bundle kid's marbles in. I don't know how well the "white" mesh used for the smaller marbles takes dye or paint, but the blackish stuff they use for the "boulders" works fine! -- Anna McDougald

I found some mesh-like material in the sewing section of Walmart. It comes in black, bright green, brown, and white. It's fairly cheap - about $1.00/yard. I've found that black works pretty well. Another tip: the mesh bags that women use to wash panty hose in makes good nets for your AT guys to use. -- The Bear

You can also use gauze. Buy the biggest pads the pharmacy has, unfold them, dye them and use them! Gauze also works well on WW2 helmets! -- Rob

Another simple solution is to use cheesecloth. Stretch it out and either spray paint it a desired color, or rinse it in coffee or tea. I have done this with scale models and it is a cheap and easy thing to do, give it a whirl. -- The Cabin Boy However this method will eventually lead to the cloth slowly deteriorating. Something in the tea does it. -- Sean

I bought some of those net covered sponges at 2 for a dollar. They worked out just fine. A little coloring (black OD or whatever you need and they are almost exactly like the D-day figure. -- Aaron Luck

Making Stripes

Here is my suggestion on how to make your own USAF stripes. Find a full size or smaller picture of the rank you want to use. Change size to Joe size using some picture viewer/paint program. Get access to a color bubble jet printer. Once you get the stripes to right size (trial and error with some programs, I have one that lets me reduce by percentage), print them on a Canon fabric transfer sheet (or similar product). Then, just iron it onto fabric of your choosing, cut out and fabri-tac onto the uniform as needed. -- Aaron Luck

Making Helmets

I have made helmets (or at least the start of helmets) out of those small plastic easter eggs. Use the elongated end for more cone shaped helmets like a Viking helmet. Add some strips for the banding. Paint your favorite color. Add some sculpy horns and some craft fur around the edges.

I have used the rounded end to make a futuristic helmet with a visor and a middle ages sallet type helmet by adding a plastic "skirt" around the bottom and cutting it off at the shoulder level. Painted it silver added a face shield and plume. -- Kevin M. Epling

Making Head Quarters

I bought a grey Plano 4-shelf unit and thought it'd make a cool GI Joe HQ. I'm going to put walls up on the ends and one side, and cut down the side tubes that separate the shelves to create rooms with better height ceilings for the Joes. This gives me a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd floors, plus a rooftop. Obviously the roof will have a searchlight, helipad, and maybe a .50 AA gun. I'm already working on an external end-mounted electric elevator. -- Opie

Improving Boots

If you are tired of the 21st Century Toys "KISS Army" boots, you might want to try what I did:

  1. Cut about 5/8" from the top of the boot.
  2. Use a thin solder iron tip to form a new sew seam around the new top of the boot.
  3. Paint over the lime green portion of the boot with a mixture of olive drab and flat black.

I placed the boots on a Recon Marine and they look great. One important caution: The shorter boots don't help keep the CCs from falling. -- Osccar

Here's how I improved the 21st century boots: I cut a slit down the lace part on each side of the tongue, like a real boot. Then used black soft wire from a bead store to actually lace the boot. Since the Joes I'm working on for my Recon diorama are Marines, the troup should be bloused outside and below the boot tops anyway. I just turned the excess trouser leg up in side the snug blouse at the right height and it looks great. -- GCaater0369

Add real laces to your boots: After cutting those 21C boots down to size, use an exacto knife to cut down the boot making your own tongue for the boots. Chose the number of eyelets you want. Then heat up a wire ( I use one of those large two inch paper clips) and proceed to poke holes. Be carefull! 21C boots are rather thick and if you loose patience, you'll melt a corridor to the outside of your boot. Once the holes are in place, you can clean them up by shaving off any "volcanos" that popped up around the holes. Now all you have to do is lace them with some elastic string. I have to say that the CC boots are the best for this, they fit like real ones. -- YN3

Here's another way to poke holes in boots for adding laces: Go to you local hobby store, or get a MicroMart catalog, and buy yourself a pin-vise. Get yourself some small drills. Off the top of my head I'd say a #60 drill would do the job. These are also available at just about any decent hobby store. Then drill out the holes. It will go super fast, and you don't have to worry about destroying the boot with the heat. -- Jerry

Making Bunks

To make a bunk bed, use aluminum or brass tubing bent to shape (use a decent bender). Then add the side rails of angle stock soldered or glued together. Paint it. -- Richard A. Lewis

Making a Light Saber

I cut off the silly night vision scope from an old ugly Grunt rifle and drilled a hole through the "lens" that was the same diameter as the sprue from some Airfix 1/72 scale soldiers (soft plastic type). The 3-4" section of sprue is a tight friction fit in the hole so the light saber can be "on" or "off." It took about 3 minutes. -- Opie

Making a C Ration Case

Take a pocket size matchbox and remove the matches. Glue the box shut. Spray paint tan or sand color. Case may be lettered with rub on letters available from any office supply place. Should read simply C-RATION. Finally, glue a strip of 1/4" black ribbon longways around the box to simulate the metal banding (or use 1/4" piece of bicycle tube) -- Oz

Making an Oil Drum

Take a 14 ounce can ( Del Monte works best ) and remove the top and label. Use one of the new Euro-Openers that cut from the side for best results. Eat contents and clean can. Dry well. Using a hot glue gun, glue the top back on. Hot glue a 1/4" hex nut to the top near the edge and fill in the hole with glue. Spray can one of 3 colors: sage green, battleship gray or mint green. These are 3 colors I have actually seen military drums come in, but I don't remember the contents. Label drums with rub on letters purchased earlier for C-Rations box. I use the following: LUBRICANT, DIESEL, and GASOLINE, with a made up field serial number such as "FSN: 467983321". -- Oz

Making Walls

Here's how to make a stone wall:

  1. Items required: gravel, silicone RTV sealer (or caulking, or something similar), piece of wood as long as, and slightly wider than the section of wall you wish to build.

  2. Glue the pieces of gravel to the wood using the silicone. Mix and match (like a puzzle) the gravel to give straight lines on the sides and eventually the top. The wall will get heavy enough to cause distortions if you try to do it all at once. Do about an inch or two high along the entire length of the wall and then let the silicone cure. Continue to add an inch or two in height every day until the wall is high enough. Caution: do not drop the wall on your toes!!! ;-)

  3. If you need a really thick stone wall, use a piece of styrofoam and glue the gravel to the sides and top of the styrofoam. The wall will still get heavy but the styrofoam will help a bit!

  4. If you fit the gravel together tightly, you can make a replica of a mortarless stone wall. If you prefer to make a replica of a wall with mortar between the rocks, make the wall as noted above and let the silicone cure. After the silicone cures, run a bead of Elmer's or another hobby glue along the joints between the gravel and then sprinkle fine sand over the glue. After that drys brush off the excess sand. You can get fine sand in different colors from a hobby store that carries supplies for sand art.

  5. Build the wall up to the end edges of the wood. This will allow you to make several sections of wall that will be smaller, easily stored and allow configuration changes for dioramas, etc. If you need to make a 90 degree corner, you can either make the corner as part of one section of wall, or make the wood ends as wide as the wall instead of a bit wider.

  6. To finish off the sections of wall, glue dirt, model railroad ground cover, etc to the wood at the base of the wall. Also glue in a few bits of straw to simulate taller growing grasses, etc. -- Rob Sorrels

Making Barbed Wire

How to Make Barbed Wire: Items needed: 30 gauge wire (found in hobby stores, Wal-Mart, etc - used for flowers & stuff), twigs (about 1/2 inch diameter), piece of wood (about 1/2 inch thick, plywood OK), glue, locking pliers or forceps, wire cutters, drill & bits, saw, rag.

  1. Determine how much distance you want between fence posts. Also determine how high you want the fence to be (about 6 inches for a regular fence, about 16 inches or higher if you want to build a POW stockade).

  2. Cut your wood about 2" - 3" wide and 2" - 3" longer than you want the fence section to be.

  3. Cut the twigs to length, adding about 1/2 inch (or the thickness of your wood).

  4. Drill 1/2 inch holes in the wood where you want the fence posts to be.

  5. Glue fence posts into holes in wood. Set aside to dry thoroughly.

  6. Cut a piece of the wire two times the distance between the fence posts, plus an extra 12 inches. For a 12 inch length of fence the length will be 36 inches (12 inches times two plus 12 more inches). The extra 12 inches of wire will be used to wrap around the fence post and secure the wire to the post.

  7. Place the two ends of the wire together and pull the wire tight to form a doubled piece of wire.

  8. Using the vice grip pliers or forceps, grab each end of the doubled wire and twist the wire. Keep twisting the wire until it has about 1/8 inch or less between the places where the wire crosses over itself.

  9. Place the rag over the doubled & twisted wire and firmly pinch the wire (I fold the rag several times to give me a thicker pad of protection). Starting at one end of the twisted wire, squeeze and pull the rag along the length of the twisted wire (similar to closing a "zip-lock" bag). Do this a couple of times. What we are doing is setting the twist into the wire so when we remove the pliers/forceps the wire won't untwist by itself. You MUST use a rag or something similar because the wire will cut through skin if you try this with unprotected fingers!!! Set the wire aside.

  10. Repeat steps 6 through 9 until you have one strand of wire for every inch to inch-and-a-half of post height.

  11. Cut a bunch of 2" lengths of wire. Keep cutting, you'll need a BUNCH of these!

  12. Take the 2" pieces of wire and wrap them around the twisted wire sections. Start about 3 inches from one end and wrap them every inch. Make sure you wrap them tightly against the twisted wire, and wrap each one about 4 times around the twisted wire. These will be the "barb" part of your barbed wire fence. Don't worry about how long the ends are, just wrap the entire length of twisted wire. Do this for all pieces of twisted wire you made in steps 6 - 9.

  13. Take your wire cutters and snip off the extra length on each end of the barbs. Real barbs are about 1/2 inch long. I make the barbs a bit longer than normal (scale-wise) because they look better (i.e. you can see them!). Play around with the final length of your barbs and make them as long as you think looks good.

  14. Wrap the ends of each section of barbed wire around the fence posts and twist the wire back on itself to hold the wire onto the post. BE CAREFUL - the barbs are REAL! ;-) Snip off the extra wire. Do this on both sides of the fence section, starting about 1 inch from the wood and working up about an inch for every piece of wire.

  15. The fence section is finished. I make mine about 12 inches long so I can move them around easily. You can make them any length and any height. A good way to finish off the wooden bottom is to glue dirt, flocking, etc to the wood to simulate dirt, grass, etc. Need something besides fences? Make the sections of barbed wire and then coil them up to simulate coiled barbed wire. Use small (about 1 inch tall) pieces of smaller twigs glued into a wider section of wood, string the barbed wire between them and create "tanglefoot." Let your imagination roam wild! Good luck & have fun! -- Rob Sorrels

Making a Raft

How to Make a Raft: I used a 12 1/2 x2 1/4 bike tube and a 24 x 2.125 bike tube for thr raft. Cut the 24 x tube open and cut the valve out. Cut two pieces about 1 foot long. They should be about 3 1/2 inches wide. Glue them together. I used qualco all purpose contact adhesive. You can also use glue from a patch kit. Without blowing up the 12 1/2 tube or cuting it, glue it to the two strips. Make it kind of oval shaped. When its dry carefully blow it up. Do not use a compressor. Then cut one more strip to go across the front of the raft to hide the valve. Make sure the valve is in the front of the boat facing in, then cut little strips of rubber to hold the rope on. It really floats and it holds 3 joes. -- Puppb2

GI Joe® is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc.

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