Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Recap: FSS 4.0

Just some quick random thoughts about FSS 4.0 now that it's done and all of the figures have been released. Of the three FSS series that I have been a part of, I can't say that this group has been my favorite bunch. Quick thoughts of each figure to follow.
  1. Interrogator - great figure, weak choice of head under the helmet.
  2. Night Creeper/Ice Ninja - sold
  3. Nunchuk - great figure, I changed out his web gear 
  4. Inferno BAT - pass - sold
  5. Tiger Force Outback - great head sculpt, body is a bit too small compared to head sculpt?
  6. Barricade - those arms... I really liked original figure. This guy? Not so much
  7. Tiger Force Sneak Peek - very nicely done! Great figure
  8. Billy, CoCo's son - great head sculpt, a bit too large on body choice. I added new web gear
  9. Law & Order - traditional colors, I like Renegades version better. Sold
  10. Jammer - large head syndrome, decent figure
  11. Pathfinder - a bit odd parts selection, bits don't quite mesh together
  12. Bullhorn - great figure but that 90's headband had to go!
  13. Carla "Doc" Greer - great mystery figure
Of the three FSS series that I've been involved with, I'm going to have to go with FSS 3.0 as my favorite group. Time will tell for FSS 5.0.

How about you? Which group has been your favorite?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GI Joe Club FSS 5.0 Reveals

All the shenanigans seem to have settled down about the reveals for the Club's FSS 5.0 set of figures. I've been it a bit of a funk lately, at least in relation to toys and stuff. Surgery, new job, moving... it's all piled up to make for an interesting summer. The toys and this silly blog got put to the side for a while.

I've signed up for FSS 5.0 and have previously been a part of FSS 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. I figured that I might as well throw out my two cents about the troops for FSS 5.0. Nothing better than sharing your opinion on the internet, right?

I loaded the pictures as to how I had saved them, not in the sequence that they were released. So, what the hell? Let's get going.
First up is Ambush. I wasn't really a huge fan of the original figure and I think that the Club did a decent enough job in capturing the essence of the character. As has been pointed out elsewhere, his neck seems extra long with that head propped up on that collar. Maybe it's just a pre-production issue and hopefully it will be resolved. In general, I'm in favor of this figure.
Next up is the Viper based on version 4 from 1994. I really didn't like the original figure much. I'm sure I bought a few, but nowhere near the amount of regular Vipers that I would have bought back in '86. Now we have another troop builder from the Club. I can't really fault the Club, primarily because the Cobra figures were largely the troops, with the individual personalities being a smaller amount. I think the figure looks well made, but I just don't know yet if I'm going to keep him. The design doesn't really fit into the design of the current modern Vipers or Cobra soldiers. Right now, I'm thinking he's going to head to the secondary market. I'm thinking I should be able to turn him for a decent profit.
Next up is Charbroil, another figure that wasn't terribly exciting in his original form. I think the Club did a decent job with him. I like this design over the Hasbro Blowtorch design. Charbroil is a keeper.
Next up is Darklon. The Club used the character in one of the recent Convention sets and he looked pretty good. I don't recall the build and I'm too lazy to go look it up right now. I think the Club did a great job; I think the parts choices work. I've always liked the character and will be pleased to add him to my collection.
No, this isn't Gung Ho. This is his Action Force counterpart, Gaucho. The original Gaucho was just a repaint of the original Gung Ho, so... yeah... Easy figure for the Club. He's way too much like Gung Ho for him to fit into my GI Joe world. I don't know what I'm going to do with this figure. Keep or sell? Time will tell. 
Next up is General Flagg. I like the design from the Club. Not sure how well that hat is fitting on his head, but the build looks pretty decent. I'm looking forward to adding him to my team.
Raptor? The Club decided to tackle Raptor? They certainly did and they did a damn fine job. I've seen customs in which the jungle viper "wings" were used for Raptor customs and I'm pleased that the Club went the same direction. The "wings" work great for Raptor and I'm excited about adding this goofball to my Cobra lineup.
I have always liked the character of Scoop. A combat journalist always sounded like a cool part of the team. Those odd combat jobs, like the journalist or the combat engineer (Tollbooth) always appealed to me. I think the Club captured his look well enough, but I'm disappointed that the head sculpt has a non removeable helmet.
Sneak Peek in his more accurate colors is up next. I liked the FSS 4.0 Tiger Force version and this guy looks just fine as well. Lazy on the part of the Club? Yeah, maybe, but it makes sense. I'm not sure why Tiger Force came out before this regular version, but either way, this figure works. I'm pleased to add him to my team.
Next up is Steel Raven, from the Club's comic story. Loosely based on a SKAR character from GI Joe: Extreme. Wow! The Club dipped into the mutant cousin/line of GI Joe? Not bad! There's been some criticism about Steel Raven looking like a female Major Bludd. Yeah, maybe. Whatever. I think she looks pretty good and well designed. 
Next up is Xamot, from the "Shattered Glass" storyline from the Club's Adventure Team comic. Whatever the backstory, we have one of the twins in a business suit. I'm quite pleased with this choice. Does the Club have plans for Tomax? Maybe in the future? 
Next up is the biggest source of nerd rage of FSS 5.0 - Salvo. This is the first concept from the Club and the Joe fan community exploded in a fury of outrage! Personally, I didn't care too much at the time. I've always imagined that the Club has to use what Hasbro allows them to use. Apparently the fan base interpreted the somewhat bulky original figure with the idea that Salvo had to be a big dude. Nerd outrage ensued... But the fan base did a good thing. They politely went to the Club's forums and reacted in a positive fashion, which resulted in...
This new version of Salvo. The Club offered up a design using the Retaliation Roadblock torso which gives Salvo much more bulk to him, much more in line with the muscular original figure. I've got to admit, the fan base did a good thing and I'm really hoping that the Club can create this version of Salvo.

Finally, there will be the mystery 13th figure. The Club has revealed that the figure will be a female figure and a "highly requested GI Joe team member." So what does that mean? Sounds interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing who it will be.

I was pretty much sold on FSS 5.0 from just the original line up and the release of the preproduction designs further completed my buy in of the line up. Right now (only considering the 12 named figures), it looks like there are ten solid keepers, with the Viper being a probable sale and Gaucho being on the fence as to what his final fate will be in the end.

My only real complaint with the Club and the FSS figures is the lack of communication. I don't want to know all of their business, but keep the fans updated on production and expected shipping delivery times. Just give us something once in awhile. Please.

One last question - Will the last figures from FSS 5.0 be released before the 2017 Convention? I certainly hope so.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Surreal

sur·re·al
adjective
having the qualities of surrealism; bizarre.
"a surreal mix of fact and fantasy"
synonyms: unreal, bizarre, unusual, weird, strange, freakish, unearthly, uncanny, dreamlike, phantasmagorical

Life has been a bit "surreal" these days and this silly blog has suffered because of it. I suppose I can't really be blamed. After all, I did have my chest around nine weeks ago. Damn, nine weeks? That's just weird. I had a quadruple bypass just a little over nine weeks ago.

That's some crazy stuff. No prior symptoms and I have heart surgery. WTF? Here's a quick run down. I think I wrote about this previously, but I, personally, need to just hash it out again.

July 5th, I go to my cardiologist and he recommends a cardiac cath. July 11th, cardiac cath, no damage to heart, but significant blockages. July 13th, quadruple bypass. After that? Just recovery, lot's of recovery.

I'm finally back to work. This is actually my fourth week back. I'm better, much better, but there's still a bit to go. Cardiac rehab is in the near future. I'm actually looking forward to it. I want my strength back, but one step at a time.

My faithful reader(s) have probably noticed that the blog pretty much sucks right now. I just haven't been into it right now. The toys are mostly packed up with no room, right now, to unpack them. Inspiration is at a bit of a low point right now. I'm not stressing, it will return one day.

Another aspect of the feeling of "surreal" is our move during July/August. We found a house in a new neighborhood in Canton, GA around two weeks prior to surgery, sold our house in McDonough the next weekend, which was just nearly prior to the surgery.

We moved from McDonough to Canton in early August, only a little over four weeks after surgery. We're well established in our new home, but something still feels a bit off. It doesn't quite feel like "home" yet. I don't know why. The house is fantastic, but it's just not quite homey yet. I'm sure it will come.

And then there's the new job. I was at my previous school for eleven years with quite a unique culture. My new school is quite different, and yet, regardless of race, adults can still screw up their kids pretty well.

Life is good, health is better and better every day, but life still seems a bit off. Surreal, I suppose. No regrets at all, it's just an odd feeling. But it gets better every day.

I need to get this nonsense blog rolling again. I've got some 4" Aliens to review as well as initial thoughts on the reveals from the Club's FSS 5.0 lineup.

Bear with me, loyal readers, I'll be back soon. It's been a crazy summer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FSS 4.0 - Sneak Peek, Outback, and...

Sometimes it's all about the timing.

Everyone who signed up for the FSS 4.0 figures has been patiently waiting and wondering when the last three figures would drop. Once thew shipping schedule got really rolling, they should have come out during the annual convention. Realistically? No, I didn't expect them, but it would have been cool for the folks at home to get them while the convention was rolling. <evil laugh>

It seemed like it took forever! There was finally an email that stated that they would be shipping around July 22nd. Then there was another email that stated that they would ship during the last week of July.

Well, damn... That worked out pretty well for me! With my little side diversion of my quadruple bypass surgery, the arrival of the figures late in July was just what the doctor ordered. Well, maybe not the doctor, but it was a nice bit of fun during the early stages of my recovery. Shoot, I even walked up to the mail box all by myself to grab them.

Okay, you may ask... "Tom, how long are you going to milk this open heart surgery thing?" I've got a seven inch scar along the center of my chest; I'm running with this for a long time! I've frikkin' earned it!

Anyway, let's get to the figures. Fred and Justin will probably do much longer and more in depth reviews, I'm just going to touch on quick highlights and thoughts. As of this date, I'm beating both of them to online reviews! I'll take my victories where I can get them!

First up is Tiger Force Sneak Peek. Interesting build by the Club and very effective as well. Like most of the Cub figures, there's a great deal of reuse of parts. There's really nothing new from the figure itself. Airborne head and helmet, Snake Eyes torso, Shock Trooper arms and legs, Scrap Iron vest. But it all works well together. Sneak Peek is a good, solid build. I like the color pallet of the Tiger Force theme. Right now, this is the only modern update of Sneak Peek out there. He's slated for another release during FSS 5.0, supposedly in his more traditional colors and maybe with a different vest.
The only new piece with Sneak Peek is his periscope. Brand new item from the Club and it works well. Nicely sculpted, Sneak Peek gets his iconic piece of equipment. The other stuff is okay, nothing too impressive. The M-16 is a bit dated and the radio and binoculars are nice pieces.

Overall, Sneak Peek is a strong figure and one of the better figures from FSS 4.0.
Next up we have Tiger Force Outback. The color palette is actually based on the European version of Tiger Force Outback, complete with a head full of white hair and beard. The head sculpt is brand new, at least since the Zombie Initiative convention set. An excellent head sculpt by the way. Pretty standard body reuse, I think it's made up of 25th anniversary bits with the newer swivel/pivot wrists. The tiger face on his shirt is nicely done, very crisp and clean.
The gear is decent enough. Nice backpack, but the machine gun and the knife are a bit lacking. The knife is a bit too big to me. I'm sure it's fine for hacking through the jungles, but it just seems too large. The machine gun looks great, but the handle is a bit too big for his hands. Accessories are the least issue to me. If the figure is well done, I can forgive the less than stellar gear.

Another strong figure from the Club to wrap up FSS 4.0!
Next up, we have Tiger Force Jinx! Oh wait a minute... Nope. I was really expecting a Tiger Force Jinx as the 13th "mystery" figure. The early clue from the Club was that the figure would be a female character with a new head sculpt.
I really didn't care too much about spoilers, so I saw who #13 was online before I got the shipment. Much to everyone's surprise, we got a modern update of a Club original figure, Carla "Doc" Greer. The Club released her as part of a convention set several years ago, way back when they were still using the o-ring bodies.
I think she's a mix of a Lady Jaye torso with maybe RoC Cover Girl arms and legs? Whatever. The parts work well together along with a brand new head sculpt. Not having the original Carla Greer figure, I'm quite pleased that the Club has included some more diversity into the GI Joe team. Some may think that Hasbro has been less ethnically diverse than they should have been back in the 80's-90's series. Tough call, but I don't buy it. Based on the file cards, the GI Joe team was quite ethnically diverse. Whatever. Race/gender/ethnicity just needs to stop being such a big damn deal in the 1/1 world. We are who we are.

Overall, Doc is another strong figure from the Club.
The Club wrapped up FSS 4.0 on a very strong note with three very well done figures. Stay tuned for a quick look back at all of the figures from FSS 4.0!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Random New Figures

Several weeks before all this open heart surgery nonsense, I managed to pick up a few new figures that caught my eye and sparked some interest.
First up is Volstagg from the Thor movies. Volstagg is one of Thor's companions from Asgard known as the Warrior's Three. The Warrior's Three also includes Fandral and Hogun. While I'm sure that there were plenty of butthurt Thor fanboys out there pissed that Volstagg wasn't enormous like his comic version, his MCU version was just fine. The figure actually turned out quite nice as well. Nicely sculpted details, decent articulation, great paint apps, and a very nice head sculpt. There's also a goofy over-sized weapon that went straight into the trash, but the smaller double bladed axe is a keeper.
As always, I tend to buy figures more for their head sculpt than for who they actually are. So I'm trying out the Volstagg head on my Gator custom. Previously using the PoC Snowjob head, I thought the Volstagg head still works pretty well as Gator. The bearded head works quite well as my swamp dwelling Gator character.
Next up is Fandral, of course from the Thor line. Decent figure, another big goofy weapon that went straight into the trash. The head sculpt is well done, but I think there's a bit too much paint on the figure.The sword scabbard is clumsily attached and tends to get in the way of the figure. Fandral is destined for a head swap to a GI Joe body, but I just haven't had the time to mess around with the figure.
Lastly, I found one of the Hammer Drones from the Iron Man 2 figure line. I'm very impressed by this figure. Excellent sculpting, crisp paint job, and the articulation works well enough.
The "Weapon Assault" drone comes with an alternate head as well as some odd whip-like weapons. I'm guessing that's a connection to Iron Man 2's villain, Whiplash. Easily detachable and easily tossed into the spare parts bin. My thoughts for integration of this drone into my Joe World is that is a GI Joe "BAT." It's not a cheap, mass-produced unit like the Cobra BATs; it's quite bit more expensive and quite a bit tougher than a Cobra BAT. I'll have to consider some sort of code name for it. I'm always open to suggestions!

Not a bad little haul. All three of these figures are well made and are welcome additions to my collection. 
Any  new non-GI Joe figures make it home with you recently?