Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Man behind CobraShadowJoes

E! True Hollywood Story


        My name is Steve and I've been collecting for most of my life. I was born in 1981 and totally thrived in the 80's and everything it had to offer to us kids. I grew up in New Jersey and have an older brother (7 years older) who was into Joes for a couple of years before moving on to trading cards and girls. My collection started with hand me downs from my brother like a beat up Skystriker, Hiss Tank and Dragonfly were my vehicles and a nice pee yellow Storm Shadow. It's shocking that even in 1985 the Storm Shadows had already started to turn yellow and I have no idea why my brothers did. I quickly started my own collection in Kindergarten at 5 years old, usually visiting a local store to pick out a figure on a Friday night out with the family. It was torture knowing I had to shop the entire store and wait until the very end to get a chance to look at the toys and GI Joes. In the end, my collection eventually consisted of about 150 figures and 60 vehicles by the time it was all boxed up and put in the attic.

        During my playing days, I stored my figures and parts in two fishing tackle boxes and kept my vehicles on shelves my parents built for me in my room. I would build bases out of Construx, or Legos, or even some leftover wood from projects my parents did around the house. I would even go as far as asking the stock guy at Acme, the local grocery store, if I could have the empty boxes he had just put to the side to build bases. Most of my greatest battles were outside where I dug up the yard for booby traps and natural environment bases, which usually led to losing parts and breaking my figures. Reflecting back on that time, I'm amazed that I would destroy the toys I treasured so much to play out my imaginary battles. I do recall regretting the destruction at the end of some battles. As I started to mature, my focus eventually went to sports and girls, but I made sure my toys were put away nicely before they eventually went into the attic.

        Fast forward to 2004. I went to a local flea market and saw a box of Coleco Rambo figures and all kinds of accessories and ask the person how much for all of it. Ten dollars later I was smiling and soon to be digging through my parent's attic to get my old toys out and dust them off. When I took inventory of my GI Joes, the majority were beat up, discolored and flat out broken, which of course bothered me, but I knew I could replace them. I ended up selling all my GI Joes and vehicles to start funding a new collection of GI Joe, which I now regret and wish I still had just the original box of figures and accessories I had as a kid. Now it's 2022 and I've been hardcore collecting almost every toy line from the 80's and even newer release toy lines that I enjoy photographing and customizing in my free time.

        The majority of my current GI Joe collection comes from flea markets, eBay, and occasional yard sales. I used to really enjoy hunting the flea markets and yard sales, but I quickly realized they didn't bare much fruit so I turned to eBay to focus on completing my collection. When I first started, the price of a figure like a BAT was about $15-20 complete and even at that time, it was a lot of money to me. My focus was to complete an 82-92 GI Joe collection of figures and vehicles all while army building my favorite Cobra troops. Like a lot of toy collectors, my approach was to buy large lots on eBay and break them down to sell the extras to continue to fund my collection. This approach worked well for a short period of time before every collector was doing the same thing on eBay, which led to me having to be more creative in my approach. I stopped buying vintage figures around 2019 since what I consider knock off figures and accessories were being introduced with the classic 80's line. I knew once I had things in hand I could tell if it was original or some cheap knock off, but by then it would usually be too late to do anything about it. Since by then my 1982-1991 collection was approximately 98% complete, I was ok with no longer buying vintage GI Joes.

        I also collect Transformers, TMNT, Coleco Rambo, Micro Machines, Super Powers, Battle Beasts, GI Joe Classified, GI Joe 25th Anniversary, He-Man, Tyco Crash Dummies, Stompers, Mezco Toyz, Sideshow, Hot Toys, Storm Collectibles, Hiya Toys, Super 7 and a tiny bit of NECA toys. All these companies consist of some GI Joe products but also a wide variety of newer versions of the classics.

     I really enjoy building dioramas, creating and painting custom items, and all kinds of crazy photography to get the most out of my collection. Since I have two little kids my availability for hobby time has dropped a lot, but I don't mind as my family is truly more important than my hobby.

        I will admit it can be tough to become friends with me at first because I'm not fond of a lot of personalities and toy collectors in this current world we live in. I absolutely hate to trade and always prefer to just spend my cash to add to my collection. Usually, once people get to know, me they realize I have a lot of knowledge to share and can be a really good friend, but even now with my family it’s a little tough dedicate the time to invest in friendships. In the end, I love collecting and everything that comes with it, but I realize now more than ever my family is what is truly important to me. My son is my best friend and he loves to go into my toy room and grab things and play with my dioramas when I get a chance to do some work in there. I hope to one day leave my children all of my treasures and think that they would at least keep some of it before selling the majority.



    1. Awesome hearing your origin story! Your collection is amazing.

      1. THANKS! You are the man! I'm so glad we've come to know each other!

    2. Hey, brother, Thank you for posting this. I really enjoyed reading your collecting story. Although, mine is not as fleshed out as yours, we should trade stories sometime! I feel you 100% on the importance of family and the role our kids play in our collecting. I love it!