In the following post, Keith introduces himself shortly after the birth of his daughter Mallory:
"Who are you?(lengthy)A month later, the Zang family received a pleasant surprise from a fellow Sandboxer. Keith made sure to praise the kindness of this young teen:
From: V. Keith Zang
Date: Sun, Jul 30 2000
AKA SGT. ZANG
AKA WindJammer at Zang's Chat.
Born Salisbury MD
Location: South Western PA
My job at a local University permits me the income to continue collecting Joes. I work with a talented bunch of folks and our combined goal is to provide students and faculty with a fruitful computing lab experience.
My lovely wife permits me access to my income for GI Joes with stipulations- ( after all she is the clearer thinker) My lovely daughter is now 9 days old and knows nothing of GI Joe. She will- I assure you!
I received my first Joe in 1969. The Talking Astronaut. My mother did not want me to have "war toys", so after seeing the GI Joe TV commercials I had to win my dad over and persuade him to "get" me one. I guess mom and dad came to an agreement and the Talking Astronaut was the "non violent" victor.
Growing up on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland I was fortunate to have parents who were able to discuss "issues" like adults, and come to agreements on things like which toys I should play with and what was for dinner. It also didn't hurt my "Joeless" situation that my dad was the manager of Taubman's. Taubman's was an Auto parts / Toy store (not unlike Western Auto was). Taubman's had the Joes, my dad had Taubman's, and I had my dad.
As store manager, my dad was able to do inventive things with the store sales. Well, more aptly, as a street smart hustler who grew up during the depression, my dad was able to call upon his life's experience to implement inventive pricing schemes within the store's seasonal sales. One Christmas sale ad that appeared in the Salisbury Times, the town newspaper, was GI Joes $2.50. Grant's was selling them for $3.50 I believe. As the more thrifty of you have by now figured out, Taubman's quickly became the place to buy GI Joe.
Mom later relaxed her anti-war toy stance and I was allowed Action Soldier GIJoe. She said she relaxed but I know that she succombed to my relentless barrage of "Please mom, the other kids won't let me play GI Joe with them if I don't have a soldier." Astronauts- as cool as they were could not engage the invisible enemy behind the wooden blocks in Mrs. Robinson's AM Kindergarten.
Well, somewhere down the line, it was age 7, my parents lost that ability to discuss "issues" with each other in an adult like way. Issues such as "which toys I should play with", "what's for dinner?", "why did you spend that much money?" and that all time favorite "I can't stand you- I'm leaving!" So- I ping ponged between the two parental units for a number of years, school districts, friends, etc etc etc.
I woke up one morning in a ditch. There I was, 24 years old, single, drunk, and wondering how I got in this ditch. Did I get lost and pass out on the way home? That had happened once before and I ended up sleeping in a dugout at a softball feild. But surely I had learned enough to not repeat that idiotic mistake. Nope- wait! Ahhhh! I see tail lights- no I did not repeat that idiotic mistake. I topped it! I fell out of a moving car. Well, I fell off a moving car. I had fractured a vertebrae (C3) in my neck. I was put in an erector set looking contraption called a "halo" for 4 months.
Two months after I was extricated from the erector set-like halo I meet an angel. The angel's name is
If you are still reading this, thank you. For your patience I will try and tie this up quickly for you.
Angel and I "hit it off" very well. We talked about growing up and what were our favorite toys. I told her how I had been collecting GI Joes. I showed her the RAH 3 3/4 fellars I had. I told her how in the sixties and seventies they were a great deal larger. I told her about my dad's store. I told her of my best friend David Taylor and how he, Kevin Parsons, John Clark, Robbie and Eric Brittingham (future bass player for Cinderella) and I played Joes together and got in some pretty serious amounts of trouble to boot.
She smiles and endures the lengthy monologue about my life and the toys and joys that filled it. She tells me about her favorite toy. And if you are still reading this part is important to me - her favorite toy was a talking lion. Leo the lion? He had a pull string (sort of like talking astro joe) and one of the things he said was "I will protect you". If you know anything about this toy please tell me- One day I will find this talking lion for her and give it to her as a surprise. At least I hope to.
Months pass. 2 years pass. Angel comes to me one day with a paper bag. She and her mom had been yard saling all day. Angel always brings home something cool from her yard sale shopping excursions. I opened the bag and inside was a blue, rectangular box. It said:
with Life like hair and beard.
Inside is one good looking AT guy! I was overwhelmed with joy. Weeks later- I was in KB toys and I spot a 12 inch Hall of Fame Duke. Angel bought him for me. Wow! By my side was a woman who would supply me with Joes!
With a fledgling collection of 2 Joes, Angel and I made it through the next six years till finally we married. Then we bought a house. I soon found that the room I had claimed for the Joe collection was too large. I would have to buy more Joes. I did.
Because, in the sixties, my dad complained that the GI Joe plastic helmet was nothing like the one he wore in WWII- it became my lifelong pursuit to make a real steel helmet for Joe. So, In 1999 I started a company dedicated to the memory of my father, a company that makes steel helmets in 1/6 scale.
So now I have this nine day old baby girl and I am reading this thread asking myself , "Who am I?"
I used to think I knew who I was but now I do not have the slightest idea. I am sure that I will one day realize my purpose, self actualize, and then upon completion of my divine task, no matter how infinitesimally insignificant it may be, pass on.
This little girl has made me stop and think. Amazing
"La la la Frederic is a Great Joe! La la laBy the way, not too many collectors get to be interviewed by the local paper, but Keith did!:
From: V. Keith Zang
Date: Wed, Aug 23 2000
Just had to sing the praises for Frederic Richter.
Our little girl just turned a month old and today she received her first package sent via UPS. Addressed to Miss Mallory H Zang- I let her mom open it. So, Angel looks on the package to find out who sent it. It came from Nordstrom's. Inside was a cute Tommy Hilfiger Dress with matching Hat. There was a card inside written to Mallory, welcoming her to the world, and letting her know that she was better than the best GI Joe. Signed - Love Frederic
Fred- I can not agree with you more. Thank you very much from Mallory, Angel, and me.
"GiJoe make the Newspaper!In 2002, an action figure company announced the production of an Osama Bin Laden figure. As one can imagine, this created quite a debate in the Sandbox. Angry words and insults were tossed about. Keith was not shy about offering his own opinion of the matter:
Date: Sun, Oct 18 1998
GiJoe made a full-page spread in the Sunday Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper in the "VoicesEast" section (as in, East of Pittsburgh, PA). Keith Zang < z...@lm.com > got a full-page talking about his GiJoe collection and GiJoe in general. Great read! (Especially his wife's thoughts on heir having a GiJoe & Barbie dressed like the bride and groom at their wedding!)
Take a look at Keith's web page -- http://www.telerama.com/~zang - it's pretty nice.
"'Bin Ladin' Figure - Insult to AmericansCollectors who are geographically near to one another sometimes enjoy getting together and forming clubs. It's disappointing when that club and comraderie starts to fade away. Here's a bit of advice Keith once offered to someone wanting to keep their club alive:
Date: Mon, Oct 14 2002
I didn't get past the part where you started answering your questions in my voice. I call into question no ones manhood. I found it colorful to make the manly parts reference as I felt it would help make the point that I think felt folks were emasculating someone else's belief with their sharp wit.
The pen, being mightier then the sword, may fall upon each one of us someday. There by emasculating us, cutting out our hearts, or severing our brains from our comapassion. Where ever it is that we think, feel, and emote from.
I felt folks were too quick to pen with logic and not even think about what Jim was saying. If any one can go back and read what he said and still come away with feeling that Jim is trying to somehow control what you can have then I say please- pull your head out of the sand.
I do not stand in the way of democracy. I do not think profiting from the making of villainous DOLLS of any time period is right. The law says you can make them- and the law says that I can disagree with you for making them.
But it should not take a court case for you to be able to tell right from wrong.
All Jim was doing was raising his voice to say he disagreed with this doll being made, and many folks here called him names for his belief. My perception was that in the minds of many in this group they were emasculating Jim with their words, dismissing what he believes to be the unraveling of the fabric of our society, calling Jim's beliefs the blatherings of an idiodic fascist.
Is this how we take care of one another here? Make each other feel wanted, welcomed and valued as part of the collecting community- the Joe community?
You guys are better than that. No one is trying to take away your toys. Come on now. What would the accessories for a Bin Laden DOLL be. Nothing good. Because he is no good. What does he do for his people. He leads them to their death to do his bidding. What has he done for this hobby? Why won't you tell the toy company that wants to profit from him that you disagree with them. That the timing of this DOLL would do SO much damage to the 1/6 hobby. "
"Need CPR for dying Joe ClubAs mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of Keith's obsessions was the production of the perfect 1/6 scale metal helmet. The following are a few the first messages posted about this new business venture.
From: V. Keith Zang
Date: Tues, Jan 30 2001
Sorry to hear that about your group. Ours went on hold hear in Pittsburgh as there just was not the time for the few of us to get together. When you are a small group and have an attendance problem that can be the death bell tolling.
Sooo- losers advice is - go on field trips. We went on a WWII submarine- made a donation of a custom WWII Joe submariner and they gave us the sub- Well they gave us more that the nickle tour. Our Joe is still on display- that was 2 years ago.
Community involvment is a good way to bring some notariety to the group and can get your recruitment numbers up. If you have a police officer in the group or know one that will help you- then find a tie in and find a location where you can hold some sort of community awareness or child safety seminar. Build a custom police officer Joe and donate it to your local police department- have them show you all the goodies they use while you are at it. By your host and the club a pizza or two- can't hurt.
The point here is involvement- trading Joes and stuff can be the first or last hour of your meeting- what you do in between that time will be where the memories are built for the members of your club. It will also be the deciding factor for attendance.
Joes in themselves are interesting but they are after all plastic. They can't be our hero and sustain a club too- that's just asking too much.
"Real Steel Helmets 1/6 scale
From: V. Keith Zang
Date: Mon, Dec 29 1997
How would you like an "M-1 Real Steel Helmet with liner" in one sixth scale?
I need to gauge response for this before going into production. Response will determine production method. The estimated release date is approximately March 01, 1997!
To respond please go to my Web Page "The Perimeter"
Once there you will see a short, impassioned story of why I want to do this and there are a few questions for you to ponder and respond to.
I thank you for the read!
References are available here in the box. Or you can talk to me in person just about any night on Coop's chat page. Thank Again!
"From: V. Keith ZangApparently, there was quite a positive response:
Date: Mon, Dec 29 1997
Release date is aproximately March 01, 1998---say it with me 1998, 1998, 1998, 1998!
"From: V. Keith ZangOf course, not everybody was so positive:
Date: Wed, Dec 31 1997
Thanks to all of you that have sent responses to me regarding the Real Steel Helmet Project! Your support and input have been tremendous.
Here is an update on the project as of December 30, 1997.
The Prorotype page is up:
http://www.lm.com/~zang then follow the link to Helmet page then link to prototype!
The pictures shown are various views of a CAST ALUMINUM helmet (no liner). I painted it and used putty to fill voids and give extra shape-
I have two meetings scheduled December 31st with a couple of manufacturing companies. Discussions on production and tooling costs will be the order of the day.
I still need your opinions on this project. I do not have an educated price estimate to offer as of yet. I will know more tomorrow.
Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
V. Keith Zang
"From: Mike LeonIf the name sounds familiar, you may remember a previous article about Mike (see the archives).
Date: Wed, Dec 31 1997
Good morning Keith,
That sounds great, i'd buy a couple. But I got to tell you, there is someone already making steel helmets, his mane is Glen Michaels. He works at a machine shop outside of Chicago. He e-mailed me last year about his helmets and if I would be interested in buying one from him, these things are awesome. I bought 2 for $30.00 each. He's a lurker to the NG and he didn't think he could sell any to the group because of the price. I don't think he is making them anymore, i lost his phone number and his mail gets bounced back.
But I think if you want business from this group you better get them below $30.00. Face it, for the $30.00 most here will buy 2 21st sets and have left over to buy a Cotswold helmet.
Here is a picture i posted last year but got 0 replys because of the price I guess. It's very well done including the lip around the helmet.
So put me down for a couple.
Keith did indeed produce and sell Sgt. Zang's steel 1/6 helmets. They are unique and highly praised by 1/6 collectors all over the world. Keith did make his dream come true.
In December of 2002, however, the members of the Sandbox received shocking and bitter news. The obituary published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted the following:
"Mr. Zang hanged himself in the family room of his home early Thursday, apparently overcome by depression on the seventh anniversary of his father's death. He was 38."It was unexpected and tragic. Among the many messages posted in response to this painful announcement was this one. I feel that it does a more than adequate job of describing what Keith meant to many in the Sandbox:
"Keith Zang...Zang's chat is still around and every Friday and Saturday evening will find a motley collection of 1/6 fans hanging out and having fun there. Sometimes they even manage to talk about GI Joe. Angel sometimes drops in to fill us in on how she and Mallory are doing. Sgt. Zang's helmets are still being sold. So in a sense, Keith is also still around, or at least nearby. For those of us who had the priviledge of chatting with him, doing business with him, or somehow interacted with him in the Sandbox, we consider it an honor to have done so. We miss him.
From: Rob Woozle
Date: Fri, Dec 20 2002
In the olden days (When the Classic Collection was new) we all hung out in a Chat Room called "Coop's Chat". It was a helluva place - always a place to do a Joe deal, chat to Joeheads and coordinate defending the Sandbox from trolls.
Then one day it was gone. Coop had to move on and the chat room went as well.
Keith Zang stepped in and set up a new chat room, the one you all know as Zang's Chat. Over a period of about 3 years I averaged about a couple of hours a day in there - it was like a second home to me.
DUG was there - the Sandbox CNS, doing AT deals and winning all the AT Commanders on ebay as we watched.
THOR was there - stealing out Joes, eating Chik-Fila and making us laugh.
Freddie was there - the most enthusiastic kitbasher I have ever met.
John Eddy was there despite almost getting a plywood enema from Big Daddy K - he was there too sometimes.
John Kozin was there - with his Ken Kollection and his extensive motor pool.
Torch was there - I "crashed" his Schwimmwagen at least once a day by driving on the worng side of the road.
The FULL METAL Brothers were there - having a helluva time and defending the free world against anything and eveything. The Knights who say PING!
Ken "Arrow" Davis was there. And I still love him like a brother although we have never met.
Greg Brown was there - doing the big Cots buys and just being a great guy to chat with.
Winch was there too - he was a good guy back then regardless of what has happened since.
Tasha Yar was there - I think I still owe her a Joe!
Molly was there scoring Joes stateside for DUG as well as tracking trolls
Scott45 was there, da** I enjoyed chatting to him!
And there were a ton of others as well, too many to list. TUT, KevHead, JuryMan, Yamil, Stephen Chan, Tamara (The Wack), Griffworks, Aaron Luck and many I jut can't remember at the moment.
So what's my point? Well, without Keith Zang, none of that hilarity and friendship would have happened.
And now Keith is gone. Words fail me. He was in his own Chat Room sometimes, not that regularly but when he was he was great to have a chat to. Usually he'd had a couple of drinks and was very good humoured and funny.
I'm going to miss Zang a lot.
I'm not a praying kind of person - but my thoughts are with Angel and Mallory at this time. They are also with Keith.
Rob "Woozle" Marshall"
Here is a link to an archived version of Keith's original website, THE PERIMETER:
A recent newspaper interview with Angel dated 3/3/2005:
The full text of the obituary (12/22/2002) is at this link:
Sgt. Zang's main website with info on the metal 1/6 helmets: