12294919_939284719442269_8471567765054815079_nWe kick off our video coverage of the just-concluded 2016 JoeLanta and The Great Atlanta Toy convention with the annual State of the Hobby panel.

In this case the hobby is collecting and customizing 1/6 scale action figures, and the panel is made up of Buddy Finethy, Greg Brown (of Cotswold Collectibles), Steve Charlton, Scott Beckmann (of The Trenches Forum) and yours truly. We go over a lot of information in a short amount of time, so listen up.

The final GI Joe Club membership figure

The final GI Joe Club membership figure

This is a hobby in flux. Hasbro is showing little interest in continuing their flagship action figure brand in our preferred scale. The Official GI Joe Collector’s Club will cease to be this December. Their convention next month in Colorado will be their final official GI Joe event unless a last-minute deal comes through. There seems to be little interest in military-themed toys at mass market retail, and kids are deserting action figures for building toys like LEGO anyway.

Despite all the negative waves, this is a really exciting time to be involved in 1/6 scale modeling and collecting.  Small companies are springing up all over thanks to the advent of Kickstarter. 3-D printers are becoming less expensive and an army of creators are designing and making new accessories and weapons for our action figures. Customizers like Aaron Luck and Murray Corrigan are making amazing leather holsters and gear.

New Marx Noble Knight, "Sir Rudolph." Yes, it's my namesake.

New Marx Noble Knight, “Sir Rudolph.” Yes, it’s my namesake.

Fans of classic action figures can rejoice at the news of a coming revival of Big Jim as a 12″ action figure. Captain Action is poised to return to the 1/6 scale world in a big way soon.

Thanks largely to the eforts of James Wozniak and Scott Stewart, the original Marx molds for Johnny West and his friends are being used to create new action figures in dozens of new colors. Steve Corn is keeping the Marx Horses in production. Zica Toys has a 12″ Action Jackson revival in the works.

Even Hasbro has shown hints of bringing back Action Man and ROM Spaceknight.

Just one of the 1/6 outfits coming from Captain Action

Just one of the 1/6 outfits coming from Captain Action

High-end companies like Go Hero, Hot Toys and Sideshow continue to produce very detailed, very expensive licensed figures.

On the opposite end of things, Hasbro, Mattel and Bandai are cranking out tons of low-cost 12″ superhero figures that could very well hook a new generation of kids on the larger scale than the 4″ and 6″ figures that have been dominant in the mass market. Signs point to the bigger toy companies improving the quality and articulation of these 12″ figures now that they’ve proven to be a success.

Cotswold Collectibles continues to be a godsend to this hobby. In the video above Greg Brown talks about some of the exciting new products they have coming up. Cotswold started out producing replacement hands for GI Joe, and now they have an entire line of entire figures with headsculpts, uniforms, gear and weapons you can choose yourself. They also offer a direct line to most of the other folks producing 1/6 scale items. Their catalog is almost a bible for the hobby.

They say the Chinese word for “crisis” is the same as their word for “opportunity.” I don’t know if that’s true. I’ve seen people get tattoos that they thought meant meant “peace” or “strength,” only to find out that they actually meant “butter nozzle” or “throat spur,” but the point is that, having been seemingly abandoned by Hasbro, who created this hobby when they introduced GI Joe in 1964, the fans and collectors are rising up to keep the hobby they love alive. They’re doing it with love, talent, energy and determination.

And that, folks, is a lot of fun to watch.

Keep checking PopCult in the coming days for more video and photos of people who absolutely have a strong passion for playing with their toys, and don’t care who knows about it.