Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Where the Boys Are -- Joelanta 2015

     The protagonists of the 1960 film, “Where the Boys Are” headed south to Fort Lauderdale for their spring break but this year I went north to Appalachia.  I spent two weeks at the Hambidge Center, an artists’ retreat in Rabun County Georgia.  There was no cell phone reception and no WiFi in my studio but I enjoyed conversing with the other artists in residence every evening over dinner. 

     Hambidge is located on 600 acres that border North Carolina.  It rained most of the time I was there so I didn’t get to spend much time enjoying the hiking trails but I did slip over to Asheville the first weekend to visit the Biltmore Estate.  

On my way back I stopped in the North Carolina Folk Arts Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Unlike the Kentucky Artisan Center, no photography was allowed so I couldn’t take any pictures of the exhibits or the corn shuck dolls in the gift shop.  I was delighted to find these exquisitely detailed instruments, however.  

The banjo and mandolin were designed as Christmas tree ornaments while the fiddle and dulcimer have magnets on the backside. 

     I was sorry to miss the American Craft Council show that took place this past weekend in Atlanta but I was able to catch the end of the Joelanta convention on my way back from Hambidge. 

Joelanta diorama

While I saw more black vendors than I typically see at doll shows, their offerings did not include many black figures.  I found more interesting fare at the Circle X Ranch booth where I spotted these replacement heads for Marx action figures. 

     Marx released Jed Gibson, a cavalry scout as part of the Johnny West Adventure Series in 1975.  

African American figures using the same face molds as G.I. Joe had appeared as early as 1965 but by the end of the decade Hasbro had developed a distinct face mold for black Joes released as part of the Adventure Team line.  My brother's childhood Adventure Team figure lost a foot in hard service and married Barbie's friend, Christie after he retired:

     Earl, the Six Million Dollar Man graciously opened this pristine box so you can see what he looked like in his prime:

            Back at the Circle X Ranch I learned that master caster Noah Maxman Coop adapted this head from other Marx figures.  

Coop passed away in October 2014 but the Levi Nolan character and other figures he created in the Marx style are still available from Circle X Ranch.  

I bought three coonskin caps from their booth and they gave me a Jed Gibson head for free.

     I scored more Marx-style hats at Stewart’s Attic:

Asian Joe from the 1990s

Tuskeegee Airman Joe

African American Joe from the 1990s
This black Stetson perfectly suited my brother’s vintage Sam Cobra figure.  

Sam was an outlaw character released in 1975 as part of the Best of the West series.  

He came with a safe and sticks of dynamite for blasting it open as well as many other nifty accessories almost all of which are lost except for this dagger that Sam keeps up his sleeve.

     Going "Where the Boys Are" was such a rich experience I'll be doing at least one more post about the things I saw and learned at Joelanta.

A bientôt!


  1. Great post! I've always wanted to see the Biltmore Estates. I need to make that happen. Looks like there were some great AA heads in the little tub. And I LOVE those instruments. They are perfect in every way.

  2. Looks like you had a great time! I planned to go to JoeAtlanta on Saturday, but changed my mind. They had some really cool items last year. The Biltmore Estates is nice! I also would like to visit there one day.

  3. Wonderful post! Even with no wifi and being rained out, it still seems like a grand time.

    It was interesting what you said about black vendors not having much black fair. I know that I had hardly any black things for sale because that's what I keep so I mostly had blond Barbie's for sale.

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  5. Thanks for your comments ladies. I hope you all had a Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Muff I think you have hit the nail on the head in your explanation of why the black vendors didn't have more black figures. I am usually loathe to give up any of my black dolls.

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  7. How cool! Me and my son have yet to visit the Bitmore Estate. I hope we can go this summer. As for the boys it was great to see the variety of the molds. I will have to keep up with the Joelanta shows, didn't know about them. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Love seeing the Marx and Hasbro figures - my Black Joe fell apart (he has that string connection).

    Glad to read that you had a good time. Thanks for sharing photos from your trip.

  9. I was not familiar with most of the heads. A couple live here attached to their original bodies in their original boxes.

    Nice "lid" score, too.