Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 6 (Terrordrome Sponge Bath)

Well the day has finally arrived, my G.I. Joe cleaning and restoration project has at last reached the final stage, that’s right the Cobra Terrordrome has been completely renovated and restored to its former glory! I knew that cleaning up the Terrordrome would be a considerable undertaking, but it proved to be more difficult than I imagined. Just by looking at the thing I could see it was a filthy mess, the compartments around the base of the Cobra headquarters and the circular command center at the top seemingly served as a great nesting ground for the rodents that made their home within the large cardboard box that stored the Terrordrome and the other Joe toys. Dust, debris, and blotchy brown mouse stains covered every part of the Drome of Terror. The real problem however wasn’t with how dirty the thing was, it was how huge it is! Originally I had planned to take the whole thing outside with a bucket of soapy water and the garden hose and clean it in my backyard. I nixed that plan however when the weather refused to cooperate and after about the third week in a row of rain my impatients and curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do what I could in the basin sink in my basement. Thankfully it worked out, but I had to do some serious wrestling with several of the wide, unwieldy sections of the Terrordrome in order to get them thoroughly cleaned.

Starting out I first completely disassembled the base, removing every wall panel and accessory that was still attached. After that I just made a few twisting maneuvers and was able to separate the top of the Terrordrome from the launch silo and the base. I was hesitant to take it apart completely; worried that it would be a pain in my ass to put back together. As I said earlier my first thought was that I would be able to just haul it outside and wash it down without having to completely break it down. Thankfully the base is designed in a fairly foolproof manner that makes it more or less impossible to put together wrong. The only concern was a few accessories that could be attached in various positions depending on your aesthetic.

Once the whole thing was taken apart the cleaning began. I started with the smallest parts first, the pie shaped retracting silo covers and the wall and door sections. Then came the dark blue ramparts that attach to the top of the base emblazoned with the Cobra insignia, they are actually some of my favorite features of the base. The large main turrets were cleaned in my initial wave of cleaning when I took care of all the loose guns and parts that were floating around in the bottom of the box, but the smaller rear turrets and the outer bay doors of the Terrordrome were taken care of this round.

Then it came down to the biggest sections, the top and the base. The top wasn’t too bad, after the cobra insignia ramparts were removed it was far more streamlined and fit easier into the basin sink, it was just a matter of turning it like a wheel and flipping it around in order to get it all cleaned. I abandoned most of my brushes which had served as my cleaning implements in previous stages, and took up a sponge that would be easier to work into the nooks and crannies of the Terrordrome’s varied layers. I suppose you could say I literally gave the Terrordrome a sponge bath.

That last part of the base, was the bottom with the launch silo still attached, together it barely fit into the sink enough to clean it. I had to wedge it in at an angle turning the faucet to one side leaving just enough room to be able to turn the water on and off and reach down to a small bucket of soap and water. It took a good twenty minutes to scrub that sucker down, twisting, pulling, shifting, lifting, and reaching around it in order to make sure it was spotless when I was done with it.

After that workout I decided to just leave it all out to dry and come back to assemble it later. When it finally came time to put the Terrordrome back together I was pleasantly surprised, as I said before it was fairly foolproof to reassemble. When it came to the minor details I was fortunate to have some of the original instruction sheets as well as the packaging images to refer to in order to figure it out.

Now that it is all cleaned up and reassembled it is a glorious sight to behold. The Terrordrome is a thing of beauty! They simply don’t make toys like this anymore, or else kids just aren’t interested in these kinds of things nowadays. This Terrordrome in particular is in great condition! Considering how much evidence there was of mouse activity within the Terrordrome itself there really wasn’t that much damage from the mice, not as much as there was with some of the other stuff. There are only few incidents of them chewing on the plastic parts, one of the turret seats have been gnawed on and a wall section has a few nibbles taken from it. The only other problems with it are minor ones, a few stickers in the wrong place, and two of the gun caps are MIA. With those few exceptions the Terrordrome is in surprisingly pristine condition and in fine working order.

But enough of me going on about the thing, take a look for yourself! Below are the pictures of the last of my cleaning efforts (click on the images for a larger version), but fear not this does not mean you won’t be seeing these G.I. Joe and Cobra toys again! I have been pondering what to do with these treasures and I have a few ideas in mind for a photography project that would make use of this stuff. In fact, there might be a clue within the pictures below as to what that project might be . . . . .

The base of the Terrordrome after being diasassembled

The various doors and walls of the Terrordrome

The top of the Terrordrome with Cobra insignia ramparts still attached

The base and launch silo in the sink mid-cleaning

Terrordrome in the process of being reassembled

It is complete! A fully assembled Terrordrome!

A shot from above, a chair for every computer terminal, and a computer terminal for every chair

Finally Cobra can get back to work terrorizing the world and the forces of G.I. Joe

There are three garage bays with deployable refueling stations

There are two smaller rear turrets that can swing out to fire on enemy forces, also pictured the launch lever for the silo

A prison cell for captured G.I. Joe forces, let's see them get past that "laser" gate!

The common area/ party room/ storage. This is where they have company birthday parties.

A closeup of one of the main turrets

That is all . . . . for now . . . .

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 5

     So here we are in the final stages of this Terrordrome Renovation project and I’m still running into a few surprises, stage 5 was wrought with ups and downs. This time around my efforts were focused on the cleaning and the reconstruction of the once elaborate G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center. After referencing a few images on YoJoe.com to get the feel of how it was assembled I realized this Joe base came loaded with a smattering of cool features. Though not the largest of the playsets this one-sided G.I. Joe equivalent of the Majeno Line came equipped with two garage bays, one with a lift to “repair” vehicles, a secure holding cell for captured Cobra operatives, artillery, gun, and lookout turrets at the front, a computer and communications console, and storage for all the random guns and equipment the Joes accumulated with each new recruit. With so many cool interactive features the Headquarters Command Center would certainly have been a busy place, despite its smaller size.

How the Headquarters Command Center appeared in the G.I. Joe cartoon.

     Unfortunately as I began examining the parts I had I quickly realized this HQCC was not all there. I suspected as much a few weeks ago when I took a few minutes to sort through the parts that went with the Headquarters and only found two rows of jail bars for the holding cell. At the time I hoped maybe there were only two walls of bars and the other two were just the prefab walls that were already there. That was not the case however. I also knew I did not have the large artillery placement that jutted out from the front of the fortress which was a shame because that is a cool and prominent feature of the set.

     Before the assembly could begin the walls and various sections of the command center needed a good washing. As I remember the parts for the HQCC laying toward the bottom of the large box of toys and as such they were, appropriately enough, the base of operations for the mice that were squatting there. As you will see in the pictures below there was no doubt this stuff needed a good scrubbing. For this task I put down the toothbrush, done now with the finer detailing of the vehicles, and picked up a larger flat scrub brush which I used to clean the grime away from these flat, wide surfaces. Several of the panels and wall sections were small enough that I could just soak them in the large bowl I’ve been using to clean these toys, but the floor, front, and vehicle bays had to be washed in the basin under the faucet.

     Sadly once the Headquarters Command Center was all clean, dried, and reassembled I realized just how incomplete it was. A shell of it’s former self this HQCC is, as I suspected, without a proper holding cell, missing a whole section of prison bars and the cool pivoting cell door. Although the console for the communications center is intact and in really good shape the twin chairs that were posted in front of it are MIA. There are also a few small dividing wall pieces missing, along with the storage bins and covers that fit in the back of the playset. As I mentioned before the heavy gun is missing from the front of the building but worse then that, there is an entire section missing that fits in behind the front barricade of the building. It wasn’t until I started putting it all together and returned to my reference photos that I realized there was a large empty space toward the front of the Headquarters. This section would have consisted of a small staircase that lead to an elevated floor that had searchlights and a gun turret overlooking the wall and would have lead to the big main gun. Next to the stairs was a housing for a generator. To make matters worse still I actually have the small gun turret, the searchlight, the generator, and the cover for it but that entire section they accessorize is gone.

     There were some good things to come from this however, all was not lost. First of all the HQCC is still pretty cool. The garage bay lift is just one of those cool toy features that are just fun. The console has some great stickers showing Scarlett and a seemingly bored Cobra Commander, and if nothing else it simply provides an appropriate place to store my Joes. Secondly while I was once again exploring YoJoe.com I unraveled the mystery of one of the vehicle accessories that had been puzzling me. There is a carriage-type trailer that looks like a big wooden crate that can attach to the hitch of other vehicles and which opens up to reveal a radar dish inside, I’ve mentioned it in past posts and was unsure exactly what it was. Well thanks to the miracle of the internet I now know that it is called the Coastal Defender and it is a deployable land air/sea defense platform and best of all it turned out that I had all the other parts that went along with it, solving several mysteries in one! Finally, as I was sorting out the HQCC components I came across the sheet of decals which I had spied when I first sorted through the old toys. The stickers were completely unused and had Cobra markings. I quickly went to the random pages of instructions that had been floating around with the toys and discovered that those stickers were for the decoration of the Firebat, the Terrordromes resident launching fighter jet. I had a bit of fun applying the stickers, and though the sheet had been pretty warped the stickers went on without a problem and so now the Terrordrome is that much closer to being 100% intact.

     So although the G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center might not be completely viable it’s still half-way decent and it was a blast to put it all together. The revelation about the Coastal Defender was great and my excitement level about the Terrordrome is now off the charts. Completely guessing, I’d say the Terrordrome is probably 97% intact. The only things that I know are missing for sure are a set up gun caps for the small lower guns, but we’ll see, that’s up next!  Take a gander at the pics below, and as always click them to see the much larger versions.

Looks like G.I. Joe could use a house keeper.

 

The main floor section of HQCC pictured with the Firebat decals.

 

A closeup shot of the communications console and it's awesome stickers.

 

The fully assembled Headquarters Command Center, at least what's left of it.

 

Ain't no party like an HQCC party, cause an HQCC party don't stop!

 

You'll notice the large bare section to the left, there's something missing . . . .

 

"This just in, someone stole our chairs!"

 

The vamp gets worked over on the lift.

 

The undeployed Coastal Defender with Wet Suit and Deep Six.

 

What?!? Who designed this thing, Optimus Prime?? (Cause it transforms . . . . )

 

That is all!

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 3

So the clean up effort of the recently acquired G.I. Joe toys continues. 
 
Yesterday was a fairly straight forward round of detailed cleaning.  There were one or two decal scares where I scrubbed some of the vehicles a little too hard and nearly lost some of their decal stickers, but thankfully everything is still intact.  Good decals were the best, I always loved putting them on vehicles and toys as a kid.  It could be a maddening process sometimes, trying to get those tiny stickers to line up properly, or working to fit them onto awkwardly angled surfaces.  I would occasionally take some liberties with my decal placements moving them around if I didn’t think they looked good where the instructions wanted me to put them, but only occasionally.  Star Wars vehicles often come with great stickers, one of my favorite examples is the recently rereleased B-Wing bomber which came with squadron markings, and little kill tally counters for the side of the cockpit in three different shapes for TIE fighters, TIE bombers, and TIE interceptors.  There were quite a few of the markings so I put some on my B-Wing and used the rest to decorate my X-Wings, A-Wing, and Y-Wing with some kills as well.  Ninja Turtles toys also had great decals, those toys were just fantastic and the stickers were ridiculous and awesome.  There was one figure in particular, Mondo Gecko, which was a skateboarding gecko who came with a small sheet of stickers to decorate his shirt and board with.  Good times.

Anyway!  Back to this G.I. Joe cleanup project.  Thanks once again go out to YoJoe.com for their great site that had the visual aids I needed to make sure these things were put together as much as possible.  I have a small box full of missiles and rockets that go to the various vehicles and having those visual references has been invaluable in pairing them up.  As another quick tangent I always liked the ridiculous amounts of missiles G.I. Joe vehicles had attached to them.  The missiles very rarely actually fired from the vehicles, they were just attached on pegs and you’d have to pluck them off and toss them over at the enemy.  I  suppose it added a bit of strategy to the play of the toys perhaps?  You couldn’t just point the vehicles and push a button you would have to create some type of rule for your battles, such as: “You have to flick the rockets with your finger and however far they go is it!” or “You can only throw them with your throwing hand touching the vehicle!”  Again I have to say I didn’t have these toys as a kid so I didn’t play with them that often but I remember arranging these mini Geneva Conventions beforehand on the rare occasions I did play with Joe toys at friend’s houses.  Maybe it was just me?

Also as a side note I learned from reading some posts on YoJoe.com that hydrogen peroxide can be used to whiten plastic on toys that has gone yellow over time.  I’ve had this problem with some of my Stormtrooper toys in my Star Wars collection and I know I’ve heard other toy collecting comrades complain about the same thing on Transformers toys and others.  The posts did mention that hydrogen peroxide should only be used on white plastic parts, and could fade the colors of other parts, so be careful to use it delicately around those colored sections. 

Ok tangents ended.  Below are some before and after pics of what I cleaned up this round.  From the  G.I. Joe Battle Force 2000 collection the Marauder and the Eliminator.  From the Cobra fleet of vehicles, one of my personal favorite names of all time, the Stellar Stilleto, and I also washed a couple of the smaller vehicle accessory doohickies.  So take a look!

 

The Marauder cleaned up and fully assembled.

As you can see the Eliminator was one of the grimier vehicles.

 

The Eliminator ready for battle after it is cleaned up.

The Eliminator in transport mode.

 

The Stellar Stilleto was in pretty good shape, just needed cleaned and have it's missiles attached. My favorite Cobra, Firefly, at the helm.

 

Some of the other vehicle accessories that I cleaned up. The two HALs, and some trailer that transforms into a command center, I don't know that is.

Terrordrome Renovation 2011: Stage 2

Well I’ve gotten a strong start with this G.I. Joe project that I’ve undertaken.  I’ve gotten everything down in my basement now and (mostly) sorted out.  Thanks to the resources at YOJOE.COM I was able to determine what all I’ve got on my hands, and whether or not I’ve got all the required bits and pieces needed to fully get these things back together.  Here’s a quick list of the major items I’ll be working on.

The Terrordrome – This of course is the big one, it has the most parts, it’s the biggest and it will take me the longest to get cleaned up I’m saving this one for last.

G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center– After taking a look at yojoe.com I think I might actually be missing a few parts for this, it looks like I’m missing some jail bar sections for the brig, which is a shame cause that’s the coolest part!

MOBAT– A big ol’ tank for the Joes, it was actually motorized and battery powered but the battery cover is missing.  I think there might be a hatch cover missing as well, but regardless this thing looks cool and is in good shape.

VAMP– A typical combat jeep for the Joes.  This is one of those toys I remember a lot of people having as a kid.  Nearly complete just missing the pivot for the rear turret!

HAL (x2)- There are actually two of these things they are big artillery guns that can be hooked up to other vehicles and towed into battle.

APC– The big daddy.  A troop transport.  Every toy group had one of these back in the day, the vehicle that held a ton of figures and could double as a type of carrying case.  Good stuff mostly intact only missing the top gun.

Dragonfly– Another G.I. Joe classic, this was Wild Bill’s helicopter.  Unfortunately this one has been marked with a “BR” on my list, meaning Beyond Repair.  The blades are snapped off, the rotor is bent, the cockpit cover is missing and the landing skids are gone.

F.A.N.G– Looks like Cobra won’t have much luck in the air either.  The F.A.N.G is a small Cobra helicopter, but this one is also marked BR, the blades and rotor are missing, and the cockpit cover is MIA.  Not in bad shape otherwise . . .

H.I.S.S.- The iconic Cobra armored vehicle.  It looks like a Jawa sandcrawler with guns mounted to the top.  This is also not in good shape, but not hopeless.  The cockpit cover is missing, and the guns for the turret are gone but I have a plan to perhaps improvise some guns.  We’ll see.

Rattler– This one is BR also unfortunately.  This was one of the coolest Cobra planes.  Bent wings that could rotate for a vertical takeoff.  All I have of this one however is it’s shell, everything that could come off of this one is gone and nowhere to be found.

Bridge Layer– One of the coolest Joe vehicles I never knew existed.  It’s an armored treaded vehicle that has a big folded bridge section resting over it and which can extend to unfold the bridge out in front of it to make a field crossing, pretty rad and mostly intact.

Eliminator– This is an ominous sounding Joe vehicle from the Battle Force 2000 fleet of vehicles.  Apparently there were six different vehicles in the Battle Force 2000 group which could be taken apart and reformed as the Future Fortress, a base for the Joes.  There are three of the Battle Force vehicles in this collection and they are 100% intact!

Marauder– An armored three wheeled motorcycle with removable gun platform.  Part of the Battle Force 2000 group.

Sky Sweeper– A mobile radar and anti-aircraft platform with a deployable guard post.  Part of the Battle Force 2000 group.

D.E.M.O.N.- One of the craziest vehicles in the collection, this one is of course on the Cobra side, specifically it is part of Destro’s Iron Grenadiers.  It has two sets of treads, an offset cockpit, surface to air rockets, golden guns mounted all over the thing, and the treads can come together elevating the vehicle in the air!  Zany.

Swampfire– Another one for the Cobras.  This one is a small aquatic helicopter with floater skids and a forward mounted gun.  This vehicle belonged to the Dreadnoks.  It is in great shape and 100% intact.

Stellar Stiletto– Although this sounds like the name for some kind of drag club, this is actually a Cobra vehicle.  A slender rocket ship, this vehicle is actually also complete and in great shape.

As I’ve been looking these things over during my initial inspections I’m finding quite a bit of evidence of the mice that once made their home among these toys.  Aside from their general filth, the mice apparently enjoyed gnawing on some of the plastic parts.  As I’ve been cleaning them I find more and more chewed sections or whittled down parts.  It’s pretty entertaining really to see where they have chewed, and it’s not like I was ever planning on trying to sell these things or anything, so it all adds a bit of character for whatever kids play with these next!

Crystal Ball was severely mauled by the mice

 

This chair from the Terrordrome also incurred the wrath of mice

I’ve had to make a few repairs so far but nothing major just some quick gluing.  There was a guard tower with a few cracks in one of its legs which were easily repaired.  Also sadly some of the figures have fallen apart as G.I. Joes tend to do.  The rubber band rots inside those things and then they’re done for.  Unfortunately it just so happened to be two of the coolest Cobra figures that were among the boxes.  Xamot (yes I looked it up to see which twin it was exactly) and the Iron Grenadier driver for Destro’s D.E.M.O.N.  I’ve glued their asses to their torsos but their legs will either have to be glued or just remain loose.  Either way both of them will permanently be in a seat for the rest of their days, which is a shame, Tamox and Xamot were two of the few Cobra high command I never had as a kid, oh well Xamot will at least be able to man one of the many computer stations in the Terrordrome when it’s done.

Xamot and the D.E.M.O.N. driver will never walk again.

So now I’ve finished all the washing of the small weapons and removable base parts.  The figures that were still in one piece also got a thorough washing.  All that remains are the many vehicles and the large bases, which won’t be as quick as it sounds.  However I have gotten a good start, and the first of the vehicles have been scrubbed down and reassembled.  Here’s what I’ve got so far, take a look.

The Swampfire before it's cleaning, not bad.

The Swampfire after its cleaning, and fully assembled.

Cobra's H.I.S.S. was pretty grimy

The H.I.S.S. is now clean but not very effective without any of its weaponry.

The G.I. Joe VAMP in need of washing.

A clean VAMP. Though I have the gun for the VAMP there's no pivot for it, so I laid a gurney across the back.

The Sky Sweeper was pretty much together when I found it. Here it is cleaned up and all together.

The APC was pretty gross when I found it.

The APC cleaned and loaded up.

Cleaned and put together. You can see here that the turret is missing and toward the back there is a section where the mice chewed on the plastic top.

 

So for the most part a pretty successful start to this little project, five of the vehicles done, all the small parts cleaned, and all the figures washed.  There are still several more vehicles to go and the big bases.  Like I said before the Joe base shouldn’t be too difficult it just consists of a floor and several flat wall sections, but the Terrordrome looms on the horizon still . . . . 

That is all!