I am an IT professional from Cleveland, OH who enjoys electronics, vintage radio restoration, air guns, and working with model trains.
My Childhood Experience with GI Joe
Like most boys growing up in the 1970s, GI Joe action figures and accessories were a big part of my childhood. No, I am not talking about the three-and-three-quarters-inch "GI Joe A Real American Hero" action figures of the 1980s and early 90s. I am talking about the full 12-inch action figures that predate the "millennial" little Joes.
The 12-inch GI Joes went thought a transformation starting in the early 1970s. Due to the wake of the Vietnam War, Hasbro transformed the supposed war-mongering Joe to an adventure-seeking one through a product line known as "The Adventures of GI Joe." This is a GI Joe I grew up with.
Just recently I recalled how much joy "Adventure Joe" brought to me in my childhood and I decided it would be fun to collect them and their accessories as a hobby.
I focus my collecting on the original GI Joe Hasbro lineup that ran from 1964 to 1969, to the Adventure Team lineup of the early 1970s.
My first acquisition was the Model #7490 Adventure Team Headquarters circa 1974. I never had one as a kid but many neighborhood kids did. I love the detailed graphics inside Team Headquarters. There must have been variations of Team Headquarters, the observation tower of mine has a yellow window where I have seen others with a clear one.
This article focuses on the cleaning and restoration of my Adventure Team Headquarters.
Step 1: Windex It!
The first step in my Team HQ restoration project was to clean the exterior and interior with Windex. Windex is great at removing loose dust and dirt from the toy to be restored and is a very mild cleaner.
As you can see, the interior of the Team HQ had quite a bit of loose dust and dirt.
Q-tips moistened in Windex work great for cleaning corners, crevices, and hard-to-reach spots.
You can see all of the dirt on the Q-tip that I removed from the Team HQ roof!
All Team HQ surfaces and accessories included with it were cleaned with Windex.
Step 2: Sticker Removal
During the cleaning process, I discovered the residue of several stickers. These stickers were probably either garage sale price tags or a previous owner getting sticker happy. The sticker and residue can be removed with denatured alcohol applied with a soft cloth.
Step 3: Deep Cleaning With Magic Erasure
Magic Erasure, a product from Proctor & Gamble marketed under the Mr. Clean brand, is my main go-to for deep cleaning. Magic Erasure is a bleach impregnated sponged. It is amazing how well it removes years of deep-seated dirt and grime with just one swipe.
I wiped down all surfaces of the Team HQ with Magic Erasure and was amazed at the results! In addition, I wiped down all accessories included with my Team HQ. I then wipe all surfaces with a soft damp cloth in order to remove any bleach residue.
Step 4: Sliding Door Repair
The bottom track of the Team HQ staging room sliding door had broken loose. It was held in place with a single brass rivet that had pulled through.
There is no way to get to the back side of the rivet when attached to Team HQ. The rivet must have been installed before the final assembly. In order to repair, I ground the backside of the rivet to remove the mushroom end. Then I applied some E6000 all-purpose adhesive to the shank of the rivet.
I then stuck the rivet coated in adhesive back into its hole and let dry for 24 hours.
Step 5: Elevator Chair Repair
A common issue with the Team HQ set is that the pole the elevator chair rides on comes out of its top mount.
I found that slipping a lock washer around the bottom mount sufficiently elevates the elevator chair pole to where it will stay in its top mount.
Step 6: Searchlight Repair
The searchlight connects to a control panel located in the observation tower. A switch in the tower allows you to turn the searchlight on in continuous fashion or to intermittently turn the searchlight on and off in order to send Morse code or other signals. I used a multimeter in continuity mode in order to determine if the light bulb was still good. A low resistance like the one on my multimeter indicates a good bulb.
The searchlight lens and reflector can be removed by rotating them until they align with the tabs on the enclosure.
I cleaned the light bulb and inside the enclosure with Windex.
In addition, I cleaned the lens and reflector with Windex like the product as well, using a lint-free chamois to dry them.
Look how nice the searchlight looks after cleaning.
Due to normal wear and tear from play, the electrical terminals that connect the searchlight to the control panel have broken free from their mounts.
Once again, E6000 adhesive to the rescue. I used this clear flexible adhesive to secure the electrical terminals in the base of the searchlight.
Step 7: Control Panel Repair
As mentioned, the searchlight connects to a control panel located in the observation tower. A switch in the tower allows you to turn the searchlight on in continuous fashion or to intermittently turn the searchlight on and off in order to send Morse code or other signals. There is also a buzzer in the control panel that sounds when you intermittently turn the searchlight on and off. All of this is powered by two D Cell batteries mounted under the control panel.
Both the searchlight and buzzer didn't work with fresh batteries installed. Time to troubleshoot. Three screws hold the battery holders and buzzer in place. As I suspected, the copper switch contacts are badly tarnished, preventing good electrical contact.
Some WD-40 Contact Cleaner did a great job of cleaning up the switch's electrical contacts.
I was also troubleshooting why the grips, molded of yellow plastic, at the base of the searchlight did not turn.
In looking under the control panel, it looks like the grips and searchlight were not intended to be turned. The grips are securely glued to the control panel with the searchlight pointing straight forward.
Once again, D Cell batteries were installed. Now both searchlight and buzzer function as expected.
Step 8: Armor All It!
Armor All is a cleaner and protectant intended for plastic and vinyl used in automobiles. I always have some on hand for use on my cars and motorcycles.
I found that it also does wonders in restoring the luster and sheen of plastic and vinyl used in vintage toys as well.
In this article, I used an Auto Parts store-branded equivalent of Armor All.
First I work on the Team HQ exterior, spraying all surfaces with protectant then wiping down with a lint-free chamois. Every surface gets two coats of protectant in case I missed a spot.
I then treat all of the interior with two coats of protectant as well wiping it down with a lint free chamois in between coats.
Look at how Team HQ shines after the application of protectant!
All Team HQ accessories get treated to a coat of protectant as well.
Here is a picture of the finished product.
I hope you enjoyed this article about restoring my GI Joe Adventure Team Headquarters. It is amazing how a little cleaning and repair can revitalize an old toy. Team HQ will be proudly displayed in my library, with the rest of my GI Joe memorabilia.