Museum GI Joe Exhibit
Museum GI Joe Exhibit by Soulgem
Some time in 2008, I got in contact with a Children’s Museum about having my collection of G.I. Joe figures on display. They liked the idea, as it would contrast their usual theme of Barbie-dolls and various other feminine toys.
This Children’s Museum is located in Stavanger, Norway, and is the only national museum of it’s kind. It’s expected to have around 30,000 visitors each year.
In September 2009, the museum opened an exhibition called ”Children and War”, and it was in that context the perfect time to display my Joes as well. The people working at the museum left the Joe exhibition completely in my hands. This was obviously a wise move, but it could also have been risky, as they didn’t really know me.
I used a great amount of hours planning, writing information texts and building landscape, and I got good help from my friend Runar (aka Shadowdude), as well as my sister Silje. We spent 4 days filling the displays with the landscape and the figures, customizing the landscape along the way. In fact, both me and Shadowdude did customizing stuff we had never done before.
In the end, I managed to get room for around 300 figures and 50 vehicles, which is around half of my RAH collection.
Me and Shadowdude started with the desert and the hangar, then the next day we made the sea, before my sister and I finished with the arctic scene. I made the presentation display as well as the Mint on Card figures display the day before the exhibition opened.
The presentation display was done in a hurry, and at one point, the glass roof fell down on the Skystriker. A museum employee completely freaked out when she thought we had broken the Skystriker. But for some reason, the jet that explodes from a single shot from a Cobra blaster, survived a 10 kilo solid glass plate. Other than that, there’s not a lot to comment on about this display. Do notice the self-custom, the disassembled Breaker and the write-up on customizing. The Tiger Force Blizzard is from Shadowdude’s collection. Between the presentation display and the hangar, hangs the sketch Larry Hama did for the museum. It’s a great piece and the museum director liked it so much she framed it the very minute she got it. She also asked me to invite Larry over one day.
The hangar is made using a specific cardboard material that was extremely easy to work with. We were lucky getting our hands on several sheets of this stuff, and it made the process a bit easier. Both the hangar, the river, and the Cobra shack in the oasis are made from this material.
We painted the air field black and put on electrical tape as markings. I see that it doesn’t hold up that well, and I may go back and paint with oil or something, to make it more permanent. I got help with the design of the airstrip from Silent Master.
One of my favourite pieces in the whole exhibition is the map, as it has various markers and additional photos attached. It’s an actual map of a location in Rhode Island. Could be close to Pawtucket, I don’t really know. I’ve gone all out on the Action Force stuff here. Every single vehicle, except the small ones inside the hangar (Silver Mirage and that boxed radar cannon thing) are actual Action Force vehicles. The Grand Slam is from Shadowdude’s collection.
The arctic display was in grave danger at one point, when Shadowdude went back home to Oslo. I just didn’t have time to do it properly, and I had a thought of just doing the snow in wool cloth. Luckily, my sister joined me and impressed me with her dio skills, and single-handedly made the arctic landscape – trees, snow, painting and all. She also painted the three end pieces, one for the arctic landscape, one for the oasis and one for the desert.
Notice the trashed Polar Battle Bear and the custom mountaneer Front Point.
The display with the carded figures turned out good, and is my personal favorite. Mostly because it’s so varied. I have placed figures from different eras and different countries. And a few vehicles. The purple cloth makes it a bit more exclusive than it really is, all though the Norwegian carded Buzzer is probably my most prized Joe item.
The sea was probably the most ambitious, and definitely the most expensive (for the museum), as we used two big sheets of acrylic glass or plexiglass. As you can see, we made the diorama for both above and below the waters surface. The blue film creates a great underwater effect when the right lights are on. Video is made with all lights on, and I’m not sure if the effect is optimal with those. As with all the dioramas, I made a story of what is happening, and the plots get weirder by each display. Here we have a sunken Stiletto (which I let Shadowdude completely destroy) and Joe divers trying to harvest the black box. Cobra has obviously found out about this and are rolling out their big sub sea guns. Eels and Wet Suits are hanging in fishing strings. Custom TF Airtight was a gift from BadAsh. Also notice the tiny white stones/sea shells on the sea floor to add detail.
Desert and oasis
Desert and oasis is the last display. The story is that Cobra has made a radar in an oasis with the ability to control peoples minds. Yes, you read that. The radar can be seen in the end painting. The Joes are obviously planning on destroying this radar, and are rolling out their biggest gun.
I let Shadowdude run free here, and he ended up making several great details. The small shack between the palms and the ruins of a house in the desert being examples of this. The palms took a while to make, but I could do it while watching tv, so it was really no problem, and in the process I also made a bridge and the observation shack which holds Bull-Horn and Tunnel Rat. The river proved to be a challenge, and the first try ended up on my living room floor, but the second river we made turned out the way we wanted. Also an interesting detail is that the desert is filled with actual artifacts, 3000 year old pottery. Don’t ask how I got hold of this, just be glad it ended up in a museum.
Finally, we made a huge poster of Falcon, which the woman who runs the museum thought to be way to violent at first. I think it is a good looking poster.
General Hawk Challenge
I also included a small challenge to the kids. General Hawk (v2) is present in each of the four dioramas, and I challenged the kids to find him. I doubt you can find him through all the videos, but you are welcome to try.
At the opening the museum assistant curator dressed up as Barbie and I dressed in military clothes representing G.I. Joe. It was fun, and the museum guests loved it.
This was obviously just a part of my collection, but it has many main pieces, like most of my planes and boats, and the exhibit will probably last for at least a year. So maybe now I have room to display my 25th?
All in all, this was an awesome experience, and I hope that the kids will love it, that my contemporaries will get nostalgic, and that the general visitor will enjoy this exhibit.