Three Cheers for the Pom Poms
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
There were only a few GI Joe Naval artillery pieces.
There was the water-cooled 40mm deck machine gun in WWII GI Joe Battleship Row Defender.
There was the air-cooled 40mm deck machine gun in the modern GI Joe Coast Guard Harbor Security
The biggest piece was the WWII GI Joe Navy Gunner with Twin Mount Anti-Aircraft gun.
Inside Hasbro we referred to this by its common name “Pom Pom Gun.” This name came from the unusual sound the weapon makes as it fired its shells. I always loved seeing those firing in WWII Navy movies like “Midway.”
The original concept was to make it the guns pulse reciprocally while the four pack of shells slipped down in. Sadly, it was too expensive to keep that feature, but the piece will still elevate and transverse by turning the hand wheels. We also wanted to sell it with two crewman, which became too expensive, but the factory did produce extra figures for the GI Joe Collector’s Club could offer the extra figures sold so it could be manned properly.
The item was planned as a special for Toys R Us for a $35 retail price point. We hit the price, but TRU decided to retail it for $50 instead, so the price-value relationship was seemed a little expensive.
To make it so accurately, one of our designers found reprints of the actual blue prints for the weapon.
We also found there was a real one in Rhode Island that we could photograph to help augment the information on the blueprints.
Since this was such a complex piece, several internal models were made for this project for different uses.
The first model was the concept model. This was EXTREAMLY rough and quickly made. I think I spent less than a day making it. It was made to show a price-value relationship so upper management could approve the concept.
Ironically, that very rough model was also used in the 2000 Pre-toy Fair catalog.
There was a second model made using the blue prints spray mounted to foam core. It was used to create a model to see how large it would be and should be. The strictly 1/6th scale model was getting way too big and expensive so we used the old Mattel/Barbie trick and made most of it at 7/8 size to the figure, but any part the figures touches is exactly 1/6th scale so it works.
The final model was the first engineering sample. When the later Toy Fair catalog was released at New York Toy Fair, it shows a photograph of the engineering sample.
It is fun doing the research, but always better when you get a chance to touch real artifacts. Just last year I was finally about to climb onto a real pom pom gun on a cruiser in Boston. The tour guide even let me spin the wheels to traverse and elevate the gun from both of its seats. It just reinforced to me how cool that gun really is.
For years one of these pom pom guns sat on my self manned by GI Joe… and the Mattel Disney Classics Beast.
What is your favorite 1/6th scale artillery piece?