|Original body GI Joe compared to "Life Like" Muscle Body GI Joe|
Given the small number of muscle body Joes made in the US (only one year of production) and the scarcity of ones that were still intact, the prices were usually more than I wanted to pay. Then last year, while I was helping my brother-in-law clean out a storage locker, I found a G.I. Joe playset filled with muscle body Joes along with a Mike Powers, Atomic Man. Of course, the muscle body figures had fallen to pieces, but all the pieces were still in the playset. Since my brother-in-law had no interest in them anymore, I was glad to take them home and try to rebuild them. This storage locker find took some of the pressure off me. I didn't have to pay for the figures on top of whatever it would cost to rebuild them and, if I damaged them in the process, it was better than if they had been thrown away.
|The playset and GI Joes found in my brother-in-law's storage locker. Of course, this is after they were repaired and cleaned up.|
Since my African-American Joe still had legs attached, I decided to use the repair kit on him first. The instructions provided with the kit were well detailed and the repair was faster and simpler than I anticipated. About one hour of work and I could display the figure in my case. The muscle body talking Joe was another matter altogether. Since I could not find any repair solutions for the legs online, I had to come up with a solution on my own. That meant taking the body completely apart and assessing how the thing was put together originally.
|The semi-circular cap and rubber skeleton inside the thigh. The cap sat on top of the semi-circle of rubber, and the long piece (now dry rotted and broken) ran down the thigh to the knee joint.|
On the original Joes, the thighs were made of solid poly-vinyl plastic and were attached to the hip sockets using metal hook-in-eye hardware. The necessary tension was provided by a thick shock cord inside the body that also held the arms and head. Shock cord could be the answer here, but since the head and arms would be attached using the repair kit, the shock cord would only be used in the lower part of the body and had to be attached in a way that would create proper tension between the socket and the thigh. I went back to the rubber skeleton for inspiration.
|A view of the rubber loop that wrapped around the pin in the abdomen. The rubber skeleton (shown above) continued down into the thighs and legs. Unfortunately, I can only show you everything in pieces because the rubber dry rotted and crumbled apart.|
For the ball, I started looking at beads in craft stores. Nothing seemed to be exactly the right size. Also, the holes in the beads were so small, I would have to find shock cord that might be too thin to do the job. My wife suggested that I could make the balls myself using plastic modeling pellets. I was not aware of the product, but she ordered me some. The stuff is exactly like it sounds: little plastic beads that become soft and pliable when dropped in warm water. Once they are soft, you can pull them from the water and mold them like modeling clay into whatever shape you like. You have to work fast though, since they harden in the cool air. If you don't get it right before the stuff hardens, however, you can drop the plastic back into warm water and start again.
|Another view of the abdomen and thigh. I would custom make plastic balls to replace the semi-circle of rubber holding the cap in the hip socket and replace the rest of the rubber with shock cord.|
With all the pieces in place, I could now reassemble my muscle body GI Joe. In part two, I will go through the step-by-step process of rebuilding a muscle body talking GI Joe Commander.