Here’s a little project for the new year that I thought I should post about. In recent years I’ve fallen in love with the GI Joe Adventure Team. I’m not sure why, but something about it I love. I suspect it’s all the beards and manliness! Anyway, about a year and a half ago I purchased my first Adventure Team vehicle, the infamous ATV.

I got a good deal on the thing, but it was in some rough shape. Hardly destroyed, but “well played”. Having never owned one of these before, first I must say how taken back I was by the size of this thing when it arrived. These are not small vehicles. Immediately I began to clean it.

The nice thing about these old vehicles is that they were built to last. Hasbro deserves a lot of credit, because this thing had clearly seen some serious playtime and yet despite a few minor issues, it was by and large, still in great shape. It just needed some loving. If there’s anything I’m good at, it’s loving.

After a long soak and plenty of scrubbing, I found that this was not going to be easy. Some kid, perhaps 30 years ago, had taken this thing out in the rain and through the mud. There was lots of mud caked on the inside of the vehicle. If I was going to make the outside look nice, I might as well clean up the inside. I slowly took the ATV apart and again, cleaned it thoroughly.

The project began to take a backseat, as I struggled literally with the seat. The seat was warped and try as I might, I could not get the seat to be unwarped. I tried heating it, resetting it, clamping it, nothing seemed to work. In addition, I found a real issue with the stickers. While they were hard to get off, once they were removed there was a ghosting effect, which showed up on the plastic. This meant even when she was clean, I could still see where the stickers had been.

I had purchased repro stickers, so you would think that wouldn’t be a problem. However, the original stickers placement was off, which meant the best I could do was place new stickers in the same cockeyed spots as before. I was officially confuddled as to what to do.

I was a bit stumped at first on how to get rid of the faded sticker look. I was close to consider painting it, but sought out the advice of some Joe veterans. Thankfully others have had the same issue and told me to try some Meguiar’s PlastX. I buffed it with that, using nothing but my hands and a soft cloth and eventually I had that baby shining like a mirror.

I’ve been told that you could actually use some sandpaper on this, but it really didn’t seem necessary as scratches were minor and most of the issues buffed out. Of course, you can still see where some of the stickers had been, but not nearly as bad as before and all that extra shine tends to take your focus off of them… Ohh look, shiny… Where was I?

Never leave screws on the floor. That’s a dummy move!

This all took place over the course of a couple months. Since I had stuggled a bit with taking the ATV apart originally, I left her in pieces. Vowing to reassemble it only when all the parts were ready. Also in my infinite wisdom, I decided that the basement floor would be a good place to leave the screws. It was for several months, until my girlfriend finally decided to clean up that area and of course, my screws were gone.

More issues, no resolutions. Figuring all hope was lost, the project was once again shelved. I was certain I was going to have search out either another junk ATV or try my best to find matching screws for the one I had. Finally I decided to ask around to see if anyone knew what size screws the ATV took (seeing as how I didn’t have even a single one to compare) and once again I was helped out, this time by 3rd Sons Books who sent me a set of ATV screws! Free of charge! I’ve learned there are some truly great folks in the Vintage Joe Community.

Now we were back in business. Only one problem… I had lost my reproduction stickers. Given that it had been months since I first started this project and I had moved in the interim, I thought for sure they were as lost as some missing Idol the Adventure Team would have tracked down in the 70’s. Amazingly, my detective skills are uncanny and I found them and quickly applied them to the new and improved ATV in fear that I might misplace them again and have to bestow the completion of this project on to my as of yet unborn children.

Next came the seat installation, but it STILL was warped. Less so than originally, but far from where I wanted it. I tried some Carter’s Loctite Adhesive and clamped it down, but sure enough it eventually broke free and returned to it’s warped shape. So close and yet so far. Eventually I settled for a combination of Loctite and Super Glue. “Eureka,” I shouted as if I was Old Zeke, the aged prospector who has a penchant for falling into crevices. This concoction took hold and she was all ready for her big debut.

But it’s been raining and nasty for a while so I never did get to take her out for a spin. Until today. Yes, there’s still some issues. I’m missing the tie down racks, most importantly. I’ll get around to getting them sooner or later as they’re only about $7 for a repro. I also didn’t apply all of the stickers, as the sticker set I have doesn’t have the “Adventure Team Vehicle” sticker in clear, but rather in yellow which would be in contrast to the yellow of the ATV.

Regardless, here’s the finished product!

Still I’m pretty proud of the finished product, as it turned into quite the adventure in itself. I learned a lot along the way and I now know what to do in the future when I have some of these issues. I will be buying another ATV or perhaps a Trouble Shooter in the future and maybe I’ll even do a custom job on one… But for now, my Adventure Team has a means of conveyance and man, it’s a sweet ride!

11 Responses to GI Joe Adventure Team ATV Restoration Project

  • Jack says:

    I've always wanted to do a cool restoration project but have never found the right piece to do it on. Plus a part of me is afraid to make things worse rather then better. Good on you for accomplishing your task with such a great final product.

    Another great read.

  • Thanks. It's something I've always wanted to do as well, but my skills are pretty limited. I figure you have to start somewhere though and I too was afraid I'd do more damage than repairs. However, despite a bit of calamity, this worked out okay.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • Engineernerd says:

    I have the AT sub body, but only bout halft the parts. Maybe one of these days.

  • One of the reasons I tackled this is that there aren't that many parts and even if you don't get everything, it can still look pretty good. Which definitely helped.

  • Bill White says:

    This was one of my favorite toys as I child! I got it one Christmas, and it was part of some Egyptian-themed set. A highlight of the set was a mummy figure that came in a slide-out tomb. It also came with a talking G.I. Joe with brown hair in desert khakis and a pith helmet, as I recall. I believe the part you are missing on the back, Newton, is a winch and tow-cable contraption.

    Oh, how I wish I still had this toy! Thanks for the memories…

  • Yeah the ATV was a staple vehicle, it came in several forms and the Mummy Adventure was probably the coolest. The winch would be great to have on there, but it's harder to track down in good shape. Not sure why they don't make more repro winches.

    Anywho, I will have more AT fun stuff soon I suspect. It's something I've been really getting into again as of late.

  • Monte says:

    What an excellent post! I don't collect the vintage 12" stuff, but I love the fun, corny spirit of the Adventure Team.

  • Thanks man, I definitely appreciate it! I wasn't into the vintage 12 inch stuff either, but the spirit of the Adventure Team I fell in love with and had to get on board.

  • Matt Stilwell says:
  • Britt says:

    How did you get the ATV apart without removing the brass o ring from the back tab?

    • Newton says:

      Sorry for responding so late, but I believe I left it in. I did this ages ago, so it either popped loose or I just slide the two sides around.

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